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Atlanta Teens Survey Teens for Lights On Afterschool Event

afterschool: 2 young women stand in front of white wall with colorful thoughts written on it, holding microphone.

Stell Simonton

VOX Teen Communications, an Atlanta youth development organization, celebrated Lights On Afterschool by releasing results of a survey of 244 teens. Students Sonia Barrios (left), 13, and Adriana Dilworth, 13, attended the event at VOX and were interviewed by VOX reporter Jasmine Martin.

ATLANTA — To kick off its national rally for after-school programs this week, the Afterschool Alliance released survey results showing 89 percent of adults believe after-school programs are important in their community and the majority support support public funding of them.

Teens in Atlanta released their own survey results at an event celebrating after-school programs Wednesday night. It was one of about 8,000 events across the nation linked to the Lights on Afterschool rally.

“We like to get answers from the community about what they want from us,” said Jasmine Martin, 16, a teen member of the board of VOX Teen Communications, a teen-driven after-school organization.

The survey by Vox high school students showed that more than one-third of the 244 teens surveyed would like to have “career-like experiences” after school. One-fourth wanted to work in a part-time job.

Fifteen percent wanted to hang out in a relaxing teen space and 12 percent wanted to play a sport.

Lyric Eschoe, a homeschooled student who writes for VOX, said she was surprised that “so many teens are worried about life after college.” But she also understood the feeling, she said.

When asked where they felt valued, more than three-fourths of teens surveyed said it was among their friends. Forty percent mentioned after-school programs as a place they felt valued.

More than three-fourths said they felt valued when peers asked for their ideas or opinions, followed by adults asking for their ideas or opinions. The next most common reason for feeling valued was believing they could make a difference in their community. Leadership opportunities in school and after-school also made them feel valued.

One-fourth said they were home alone and unsupervised five days a week after school.

Most of the respondents were ages 14-18.  Unlike the Afterschool Alliance survey, the VOX survey sample was not random within that age group. The majority of respondents were female and African-American.

Around the country, many Lights On Afterschool events emphasized science, technology, engineering and math.

For example, Charlotte NEXT, in Charlotte, N.C., gave middle-school girls a chance to shadow women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. In Newark, N.J., the USVO Teen Center highlighted free classes presented by the New Jersey Audubon Society, giving teens a chance to study nature.

“Afterschool programs provide opportunities for students of all ages to engage in team-based, hands-on STEM learning,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant in a statement. “They have fun while gaining skills that can help them reach their full potential and ready them for the jobs of tomorrow.”

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