Back-to-school time is also the time to start planning your Lights On Afterschool event. Lights On Afterschool is an important national advocacy event to let everyone know how critical afterschool programs are to kidsâ€™ academic success and parentsâ€™ peace of mind.
The National Lights On Afterschool day is Thursday, Oct. 26. Your afterschool program can participate simply by hosting an activity for parents, community members or special guests. Itâ€™s a great time to celebrate the kids in your program and give a nod to your favorite partner organizations and volunteers.
Not sure where to start? Thatâ€™s no problem because there are tons of resources to help you pull off a successful Lights On Afterschool event. Hereâ€™s our tips:
REGISTER YOUR EVENT
Do this now! This is your first advocacy step. The Afterschool Alliance will brag about how many events are happening, so donâ€™t keep yours a secret. REGISTER YOUR EVENT here.
INVITE SPECIAL GUESTS
Decision-makers in your community should know all the great things about your program, but they won’t know unless you tell them. Donâ€™t forget about the school superintendent, school board members, the mayor, city council members, the chamber of commerce, current partner organizations and any organizations you wish were your partners. Not sure if theyâ€™ll come? Give them a role, like reading to kids, judging a contest, telling kids about their job, or telling parents about their special contribution to your program.
INVITE ELECTED OFFICIALS
Invite at least one state or federal elected official. Use this website to find your federal, state and local elected officials and their contact information. Trust me, your representatives and senators enjoy visiting community programs and are easy guests. The Afterschool Alliance has tips and tools to make the most of your time with elected officials. They even put together a sample invitation.
ENGAGE YOUR KIDS AND YOUR GUESTS
What are your studentsâ€™ favorite program activities? Could your guests work on a project with your students? Could your students present something they created in your program? Get them working together and talking, and your students will do all of your advocacy work for you.
PROMOTE YOUR EVENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Do this before, during and after your event to get your message out. Hint: tag @envisionedplus, @ohioafterschool, and @afterschool4all for guaranteed retweets.
Join me and Nichelle Harris, director of the Ohio Afterschool Network, for a webinar on how to plan your Lights On Afterschool event. The webinar will be at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 18. No registration is needed, just call or join online.
Hereâ€™s the webinar information:
- Dial into the conference:
Dial-in Number: (515) 739-1254 â€“ United States
Access Code: 317425
International Dial-in Numbers: https://www.freeconferencecall.com/wall/director551/#international
- Join the online meeting:
Online Meeting Link: https://join.freeconferencecall.com/director551
Online Meeting ID: director551
Instructions: At the scheduled date and time of the meeting, dial into the conference line. When prompted, enter the Access Code followed by the pound key. To join the online meeting, click on the meeting link listed above and follow the prompts to join the meeting.