Kids and adults from the McGaw YMCA, Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.) and Family Focus gathered in the YMCA gymnasium on Oct. 23 for a rally promoting after-school programs as a way to keep kids safe, educated, and socialized instead of staying home alone in the afternoons or falling into gangs or violence. More than 28 million children in the United States are said to have parents who work outside the home, and 14.3 million children do not have a supervised place to go after school.

“There are kids who are at home unsupervised after school,” said Kenzi Huelskoetter, McGaw YMCA assistant school-age director. “After-school programs are a safe place for these kids, a positive learning environment, and a place to build social skills and strong character. … [Lights On Afterschool] really highlights the importance of these programs and brings awareness to the community.”