An event to highlight the importance of quality after-school programs in western New York took place at the Eggerstville Community Center, Friday.
The legislative breakfast was hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Buffalo in conjunction with the After-School Network of Western New York and the United Way. The event touched on the importance of continued public and private sector funding into the programs and celebrated existing after-school programs.
After-School Network of Western New York Co-Chair of the Kimberly Luce says she believes the programs are crucial as they teach children life lessons and provide the support they need to succeed.
“There are not enough programs here in western New York to actually fill the need for after-school programs. So, we definitely need to celebrate the ones that we already have, but continue to bring more quality programs to meet the of our students here in western New York,” said
Former Undefeated Heavy Weight Contender "Baby Joe" Mesi spoke at the event. He says after-school programs helped shape who he is today.
“In today’s day and age crime rates are high, child obesity is high, people and children at too plugged in. We have to be more and more involved and aware of the afterschool programs that are available to us. I didn’t know that I had a niche and a love for boxing until I went [to an afterschool program.] A child may not know that they’re good at boxing or perhaps good at drama. You can find so much about yourself,” said Mesi.
Senator Tim Kennedy says New York State is investing $160 million into after-school programs in the 2014-15 legislative budget. He says every dollar invested now saves taxpayers $3 down the road.
17-year old Nasseema Ahamed has attended ACCESS of New York’s after-school program since kindergarten. She says over the years the program's staff inspired her to work hard and be successful.
“I feel like they really do change a person. They really do help a lot of kids with everything, with school work, with sports. ACCESS always takes us to educational trips which makes us want to go even more. I mean who doesn’t like trips? I love it, I honestly love it. I feel like it changed me a lot,” said Ahamed.
Ahamed encourages other kids to join an after-school program in their own neighborhood.