Recognizing the importance of afterschool with events Oct. 29-30

FLINT — Starting last week, the historic arches along downtown Flint’s Saginaw Street are shining blue for the same reason that YouthQuest is hosting a series of family-friendly fall- and Halloween-themed events for the public.

The activities aim to highlight the importance of providing engaging programming for K-12 students after the final bell has sounded for the day.

It’s all part of Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide rally organized by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization, as a way to underscore the need to invest in afterschool programs. According to the organization’s America After 3PM household survey, for every child in an afterschool program today, two more are waiting to get in.

“In supporting our students and serving as a resource for their families, YouthQuest has an incredible impact on our community,” said Nefertari Jones, program director for the afterschool and summer enrichment program, which is made possible with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. “There is great value in ‘keeping the lights on’ after school. We invite our community members to attend these events and see that for themselves.”

Now in its 10th year, YouthQuest is offered at Flint Community Schools and International Academy of Flint, where students participate in engaging activities focused academic support; enrichment; physical fitness and healthy behaviors; nutrition education; youth development and leadership; and family and community engagement. For 2020, the program has modified its format due to the coronavirus pandemic, with most sites delivering its program in a virtual model.

“Quality afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working parents – and now they are doing so during expanded hours and in expanded ways,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant in a statement. “That is an untold story of the pandemic.”

To help share that story, YouthQuest will be partnering with Flint Community Education Initiative and the school districts to host six free, outdoor events open to the community. Most events will be held in a drive-thru format. Social distancing protocols will be followed, and attendees are asked to wear a face mask if they step outside their vehicle.

The remaining lineup includes:

Thursday, Oct. 29

Drive Thru Trunk or Treat at Doyle- Ryder Elementary (1040 N. Saginaw St., Flint)

A fun drive-thru event will be held from 4:30-6 p.m.

Haunted Drive Thru at Southwestern Classical Academy (1420 W. 12th St., Flint)

From 5-7 p.m., students and community members can participate in a drive-thru treat-or-treat and haunted house event. Please note that this event is drive-thru only. No walk-ups, please.

Lights On Trunk or Treat at Pierce Elementary (1101 W. Vernon Dr., Flint)

From 4:30-6pm, this YouthQuest site will host games, raffles, art projects, a costume contest and more. Don’t forget to bring your dimes for the student’s dime drive service-learning project!

Friday, Oct. 30

Fall Harvest Spooktacular at Durant- Tuuri-Mott Elementary (1518 University Ave, Flint)

From 5-7 p.m., students and community members can enjoy a car customer parade, photo stations, music, book giveaway and more.

If you would like to attend one of YouthQuest’s Lights On Afterschool events, please RSVP to jruiz@flintandgenesee.org or 810-600-1422.