DAWSON, GA (WALB) - Hundreds of students marched in a rally to raise awareness for the benefits of after-school programs on a day there was a nationwide celebration of after-school programs.
Organizers believe after-school programs are the key to children's education and success.
Positive Direction Youth Center joined 8,000 sites across the nation for the annual Lights on After School, highlighting the benefits of after-school programs.
"Without this, children don't get the extra help they need," said Founder Dorthy Tomblin.
Tomblin explained that it is more than just help with academics.
"You see so many improvements on children's behavior and just knowing that somebody loves them and somebody cares for them and they have a safe place to go in the afternoon," said Tomblin.
According to organizers, the most dangerous times for youth is between the hours of 3 and 8 p.m.
"They need constructive activities to be involved in. Otherwise destructive activities sometimes find them," said guest speaker Kenneth Cutts.
Organizers said that since the program started in 2004, they have only had success with their kids. Not one has been arrested or caught in trouble, but go on to become graduates, doctors and leaders in the community and they believe it is because of the positive influence in their life with the after-school program.
"A young person is a lot of times, the product of their environment and what they see. So, if they're involved in positive things and they see positive people that can only be a plus for a positive community," said Cutts.
The Positive Direction Youth Center encourages the community to get involved in supporting after-school programs by donating their time and sponsorships.
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