Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Why Children Need After School Programs: A Message To Donald Trump


Clearly Donald Trump didn't grow up in a neighborhood where after school programs were a life line for children. I did. Many of us needed a safe space not only to get away from tough kids and bullies, but our own parents. My parents, though they were hardworking people who had troubles of their own, rarely had a kind word to say to me and often hit me when they got frustrated with my rebellious personality. Having a place where I could shoot baskets or play nok-hockey or just know that I wasn't going to be yelled at was a God send. i spent countless hours in the after school program and night center at PS 91 in Crown Heights. And i clearly wasn't the only one because those places were always packed.
It was the same way in the Bronx. If you read the Arthur Crier and Howie Evans narratives in "Before the Fires: An Oral History of African American Life in the Bronx from the 1930's-1960's," you will see how the after school programs and night centers of the Bronx not only saved lives of children who lived in gang ridden neighborhoods, they launched many careers in music and sports.
The mentoring young people received in those programs was as priceless as the safe spaces they provided. You find a successful person who grew up in a poor or working class neighborhood, likely as not you are going to find an after school mentor played an important role in their success.
Taking away after school programs from children is a crime.It was done once in my lifetime during the 1970's fiscal crisis in New York and now Donald Trump wants to do it again. For shame! Our children deserve room to grow, to relax and to feel safe and find adult mentors to protect them, nurture them and inspire them.

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