PEKIN Ill. — Tazewell County celebrated its 16th Light’s On event, Tuesday at the Avanti’s Dome in Pekin.
The event saw over 400 students, parents, and community leaders rallying together to show support for afterschool programs. Stacie Ealey, Director of Community Programs said this event’s purpose is to highlight the children involved.
“Light’s On Afterschool celebrates the remarkable work being done by students who attend our afterschool programs,” Ealey said.
Sara Sparkman, Communications Manager for the Tazewell County Health Department, said this is one of the County’s most anticipated events.
“This is a big event for the students to bring about awareness for afterschool programs and how important they are in Tazewell County,” Sparkman said.
Sparkman said afterschool programs serve millions of kids across the nation and doubles as both an educational and social environment for children runs their mandatory school hours end.
Jacob Beck is apart of the East Peoria Support Schools Success program and he described what a typical day in an afterschool program is like from him.
“You get to have snacks and then you have to read and if you have homework you do it,” Beck said. “And after the timer runs out you get to play on the Chromebook.”
There were also parents like Bryan Boston who said these programs benefit children and parents alike.
“It obviously provides a safe place for children and students to be after school when parents can’t necessarily get off work in time to pick them up,” Boston said.
Sparkman reiterated the importance of these programs and her hope is that the state will continue to fund them.
“The funding is very important to a lot of afterschool programs,” Sparkman said. “Between the hours of 3 pm and 6 pm sometimes students aren’t making the best decisions. So if we have healthy places and safe places for them to be that’s very important.”