Where do children go between 3 and 6 o’clock?

Published 9:41 am Thursday, October 14, 2010

Alice Englin, Partners in Prevention

What are your kids or grandkids doing weekdays between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.?

How do they spend their time after school, especially if both parents are at work? The hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are critical hours in the lives of school age youth. According to a report from Fight Crime: Invest In Kids, these are the peak hours for experimentation with sex, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and the peak hours for juvenile crime.

Alice Englin

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The Afterschool Alliance’s “America After 3 PM” report states that among the 911,314 school-age children in Minnesota: 32 percent (294,354) of Minnesota’s K-12 children are responsible for taking care of themselves after school. Twelve percent (113,003) of Minnesota’s K-12 children participate in after-school programs.

In Freeborn County we are fortunate to have many high quality, affordable activities and program options for our kids during the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. and during other out of school time. On Tuesday, Oct. 19, Freeborn County Partners in Prevention’s Community Partners for Youth committee is coordinating an event to showcase some of these wonderful programs in our community. We invite you and your school-age kids or grandkids (kindergarten through eighth grade) to attend the first Freeborn County Youth Activity Fair. This will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Fairlane Community Center at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. We will have games, giveaways and a free hot dog, chips and lemonade supper for attendees. Youth for Christ’s The Rock will have its Jumpie set up and available free of charge. This is a great opportunity for you to check out some of the after-school and out-of-school time activity options available in our community.

This event is also in celebration of national Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide event to recognize the critical importance of quality after-school programs in the lives of children, their families and communities. It is a project of the Afterschool Alliance — a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children have access to quality afterschool programs.

On Sept. 28, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution in support of Lights On Afterschool. We are joining more than 1 million Americans and will be one of over 7,500 events nationwide.

Kids who participate in quality after-school and out-of-school programs and activities may increase their opportunity to attain what The Search Institute calls the 40 developmental assets for youth age 12-18. The Search Institute in Minneapolis has identified the following building blocks of heathy development that help young people need to grow up healthy, caring and responsible.

These 40 assets are categorized into eight categories: support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies and positive identity.

Visit www.search-institute.org to review the 40 assets and to assess which assets your child or grandchild possesses. The more developmental assets young people have in their lives, the more likely they are to succeed in school, show leadership, take care of their health and value diversity, and the less likely they are to be involved in violence, in using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and in early sexual activity.

Parents and grandparents can be a wonderful resource to facilitate the development of these assets in their children. Our community’s quality youth programs and activities are also wonderful resources to help our children attain these assets and much more.

Hope to see you at the Freeborn County Youth Activity Fair! If you are unable to attend the fair and would like information on local youth programs and activites please contact me at 377-5504 or alice.englin@co.freeborn.mn.us.

Alice Englin is the coalition coordinator for Freeborn County Partners In Prevention. The coalition’s mission is to prevent and reduce youth substance use and abuse in Freeborn County.