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Jodi Grant's picture

Valentine's Day is all about showing the people you love how much they mean to you. It's about expressing how you feel to those who make your life richer and more meaningful.

This year, moms around the country are sending Valentines to their afterschool programs.

It’s no wonder that afterschool programs hold a special place in the hearts of many busy parents. As a mom myself, I know how important it is to be sure that when they are not with me, my children are safe, supervised, learning and engaged. Afterschool programs do all that – they provide a space for children to expand their horizons, learn new skills, have new experiences, and explore their potential – all in a safe environment with adults who care about their success in school and in life. For moms in the workforce in particular, they are a life-saver.

Every day at the Afterschool Alliance, we hear from mothers who tell us how important afterschool programs are to them. They are impressed with the dedication and commitment of afterschool staff and volunteers, who work so hard to create opportunities for their kids to explore their interests. They say their children enjoy the programs, talk about what they learned there, and participate in exciting activities – from judo to robotics to dance to creative writing.

Many say afterschool programs helped their children develop social skills, gave them confidence, and helped them engage in school more successfully.

Here's what we've heard from some moms, in their own words, this Valentine’s Day:

From Heather in South Dakota:

"Both girls are healthier because of their time at Southern Hills. They run, play, jump and eat healthy snacks. They learn to make good choices and develop healthy friendships in a supportive, safe environment. I am so certain they are safe that I never worry even for a moment about them being out of my sight while they are at their program. I am more productive at work because I am sure that my daughters are safe, happy, healthy and learning."

From Linda in Colorado:

"We have watched Tobi flourish in the Club Tres program. Tobi is limited in his communication and if he does not like something, we usually do not hear about it. However, we hear a lot about what he is doing in Club Tres. Tobi has interacted with his peers in Lego Robotics, he has built his confidence in Tae Kwan Do and currently has his yellow belt. He has gotten his hands dirty in Pottery and made some amazing things. Tobi is really enjoying the science clubs he's participating in this year, and he really loved launching rockets right before Christmas. Tobi has really struggled with some of this in the past and to see him getting his hands dirty in Pottery and enjoy touching the clay brought tears to my eyes."

From Virginia in Illinois:

"My son and daughter have been at BUILD for over five years. My daughter Alyssa received a scholarship from BUILD, which helped her attend college. She learned great life skills when she was a mentor/volunteer in BUILD's summer program a couple of years ago. My son Alex participated in the summer and afterschool programs as well, and has been a much better student since attending BUILD's afterschool workshops and classes."

From Tami in Pennsylvania:

"Although they are rather young, my son and daughter have had a lot of change and upheaval in their lives. They have attended several different programs - preschool, daycare, afterschool and enrichment - in different school districts because we have moved so much. Like many kids, they have also had some emotional and behavioral issues as a result of having their parents separate. I feel strongly that the unique combination of consistency and flexibility LifeSpan offers fits the needs of my family to a 'T.'"

These moms represent millions of others who recognize that afterschool programs address a wide variety of family needs – from keeping kids safe during the hours after the school day ends and before parents return from work, to helping children succeed academically, to supporting children with developmental disorders, to encouraging physical fitness and an interest in science and math, to providing a supportive environment for children who need it.

There aren’t nearly enough afterschool programs to meet the need, and millions of children and families struggle as a result. But this Valentine's Day, it's no surprise that parents across the country who are lucky enough to have their children in afterschool programs are asking these programs to “be my Valentine.”

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