Ramstein Torch Club, Youth Programs light up KMCC to highlight afterschool programs

If you drove by the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center Oct. 20, hopefully you noticed something slightly different. The Ramstein Torch Club and Youth Programs lit up the KMCC with the words “Be Great,” “Youth Programs” and “Great Futures Start on Base” using colorful spotlights for the 12th annual Lights on Afterschool rally.

The gathering was one of 7,500 such events across the nation emphasizing the importance of keeping the lights on and the doors open for afterschool programs. Ramstein Torch Club was recognized for excellence in the planning of this event with a $1,000 Light Up a Landmark Spotlight award from JCPenney and the Afterschool Alliance for its creative plans to shine a spotlight on the afterschool programs that keep children safe, inspire them to learn and help military families successfully carry out their mission.

Lights On Afterschool is an initiative of the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs. This is an annual event that highlights the positive impact of afterschool programs in local communities, celebrating the unique experiences offered to youth at our afterschool programs. It is a powerful reminder that afterschool programs keep children safe, inspire them to learn, and relieve working parents of worries about how their children spend their afternoons.

“According to information from the Afterschool Alliance, nearly 18 million children in America do not have access to afterschool programs. We are so fortunate to live in a military community that realizes and values the positive impact of afterschool programs,” said Josie Cordova, Airman & Family Services Flight chief. “The funding received by Youth Programs to make them accessible to everyone is truly one of the benefits of working for the Air Force.”

The Ramstein School Age Program Annex Torch Club, a Boys & Girls Clubs of America service and leadership club for pre-teens focusing on building strong character and civic engagement, coordinated the “lighting” of the KMCC mall by creating a spotlight display projected on both side walls of the food court entrance that displayed the themes of KMC afterschool programs, Ramstein Youth Programs and the 86th Force Support Squadron. The lights were switched on at 5:30 p.m. by Lt. Col. Todd Alcott, 86th Force Support Squadron commander, and the members of the Ramstein Torch Club. The Youth Programs staff conducted a publicity and information fair in the food court to help raise awareness in the community of the availability and importance of the programs.

Earlier that afternoon, the Ramstein Youth and School Age Programs conducted an open house for families and educators, inviting adults to experience the afterschool programs that support the positive development of their children through a variety of skill stations, project displays and information sheets. The open house began with the singing of the national anthem by Torch Club members Tyana Jernigan, 12, Niajae Williams, 10, and Tatianna Gochin, 10. Tyana was the MC for the open house event, featuring Alcott as a special guest speaker. The highlight of the afternoon was the premier of  a video created by Torch Club members with the help of Staff Sgt. Michael Davis, videographer from Ramstein Public Affairs. This documentary compiled the words of Alcott, Cordova, parents and children on their beliefs about the importance of afterschool programs in supporting military families, developing resilience, and providing a fun and positive experience for all youth.

More information on the Afterschool Alliance and Lights On Afterschool is available at www.afterschoolalliance.org.

(Courtesy of 86th Force Support Squadron)