Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe visited the Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson City on Tuesday to celebrate with Lights on Afterschool, an annual nationwide rally for after-school programs.
Kehoe toured the building and watched students participate in science experiments and discuss changes in women's rights throughout history. As he watched students do science experiments including mixing oil and water and baking soda and vinegar, he was reminded of his own childhood in after-school programs.
"We did the baking soda and vinegar, blowing the caps off of little bottles and stuff," he said. "A lot of reading, a lot of help with comprehension on reading, a lot of work with math. And they made it all fun like they're doing it here."
Kehoe released a video ahead of the event, explaining the impact of after-school programs in his own life. Kehoe said, " my mom worked hard as a single parent to support us. She could not afford childcare, and without the after-school program, my brother and sisters and I would not have had a safe place to go after school. These unsupervised hours from 3-6 (p.m.) are the prime time for youth to be targeted by predators or get into trouble themselves. After-school gave my mom opportunities to provide resources for our family and help me succeed in school and in life."
Kehoe said his after-school program led him to a speech and debate team, which prepared him for later challenges in life.
"Make sure the staff knows that they're making an impression on these kids now, and they may never ultimately see the outcome, but there is an impression that's being made on them," Kehoe said to the workers at the Boys & Girls Club.
The programs serve more than 1,000 area youth every year, according to a news release.
Many of the students seemed excited to see the lieutenant governor and showed off their creations and experiments; as he passed in the hall, one young student exclaimed, "Is that the vice president?"
This year, Lights on Afterschool is celebrating programs' efforts to help children recover from the pandemic - academically and socially.
CEO Wade Middaugh said Boys & Girls Club tried to move quickly to prevent learning loss during the summer, employing teachers who were on break. He said throughout the year it keeps up to date on students' grades and test scores through its relationship with the school and tries to supplement when students are falling behind. He often reminds parents, "We're all in this together."
Parson officially declared Oct. 28 "Lights on Afterschool day," and events will occur throughout the week. Secretary of State Ashcroft was also scheduled to visit a program in Nixa, and Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick was headed to Exeter, according to the release.