By Debra J. Groom
Oswego County Opportunities will bring back afterschool programs at Fulton Junior High and Kenney Middle School in Hannibal thanks to money from the state.
State officials announced Friday $10.9 million in new grants for 68 Advantage After School Programs across New York state. OCO is receiving $220,000 to provide an afterschool program at the two schools.
According to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, the Advantage After School Programs provide thousands of school-age children with youth development opportunities for three hours at the end of each school day.
The statewide programs reduce the burden on parents and guardians who work in the evenings and are proven to boost academic achievement, enrich relationships with their peers and increase school attendance.
“By funding these afterschool programs, we are ensuring that children in communities across the state have access to learning opportunities and cultural exposure that will further their development for years to come,” Cuomo said in the news release.
“Our administration is focused on providing exceptional learning environments to students, from Pre-K through college, and supporting exercises that are proven to enhance their learning experience is the right thing to do,” Cuomo said. “After school programs play a major role in enriching the lives of children, and this funding to Advantage After School Programs is a wise investment for New York’s future.”
Sarah Irland, Oswego County Opportunities deputy executive director, said OCO operated afterschool programs a few years ago, but the programs ended due to lack of money.
“We’re really pretty excited about this,” she said Friday. “There is a lot of need for young people here. It’s very good news.”
The afterschool programs at Fulton Junior High and Kenney Middle will begin in September. They will consist of a number of components:
** Academics. Irland said there will be academic activities and academic support. An emphasis will be placed on math and science. “This will help kids gain some of the skills they perhaps don’t get during the day,” Irland said.
** Health and fitness. Children will learn about issues they face now and in coming years, such as relationships, healthy eating, why exercise is important and issues dealing with puberty.
The program will serve 75 youth at each school. The program is voluntary, but some children might be recommended for the program by their teachers and/or parents.
The Fulton and Hannibal school districts support the program in their schools, Irland said.
Advantage After School Programs are funded primarily through state funds and a contribution of federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families money. The funds were awarded following a competitive Request for Proposal process with regional allocations based on the number of children aged five through 17 residing in each state Office of Children and Family Services-designated region and in the five boroughs of New York City, according to the 2010 Census.
According to the news release, the Advantage After School Programs were created to help provide New York’s children with educational, interesting and fun activities to fill the vital three-hour gap directly after school. A growing body of research shows that children who participate in quality after school programs have higher school attendance and academic achievement, and are less likely to be involved in risky behaviors after school hours.
Additionally, studies have found that children who attend quality after school programs have better relationships with their peers, fewer behavioral and emotional problems, better grades and fewer absences from school than their peers who are unsupervised after school.
OCO is the only agency in Oswego County to receive money for these afterschool programs.