This week’s blog post was written by Melanie DeBay.  Melanie is the Director of Itasca Area Community Education.  In her work she advocates for access to high quality out of school time opportunities for all kids in the greater Itasca Area.  


Have you ever wondered what amazing opportunities there are for kids afterschool in Itasca County?  Programs such as the YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, Community Education, Scouts, Libraries, Music, Mentoring, Museums, Parks and Rec, Arts, Special Olympics, Dance, Gymnastics, Sports, Career Readiness, Life Skills, 4H, school programs, tutoring, Campus Life, robotics, recreation, and much more all happen here in Itasca County.  Let’s celebrate together as community!

Parents, families, and community members are invited to the events across Itasca County celebrating keeping our lights on afterschool to best serve kids.  Events for this years celebration include the Mad Scientist Mystery of Chemistry at the Greenway High school on October 17 and an Activity Fair at RJEMS in Grand Rapids on October 18th where kids and families can learn more about the afterschool programs through hands on activities in the pool and the gym.  Make a trek north to Bigfork on October 19th to learn all about the wolf.  “Howl with the Wolf” will take place at the Bigfork School.  Finally, complete your celebration with a Pumpkin carving event at Deer River King Elementary school on October 27.  For more information about these Children First! free events visit

Lights on Afterschool is a national celebration of afterschool programs for our children, families, and communities. These events help draw attention to the many ways afterschool programs support students by offering them opportunities to learn new things and discover new skills. Afterschool programs fill a critical – but often silent – gap in helping young people boost academic achievement, develop social-emotional skills like collaboration, persistence and initiative, and build relationships with positive role models outside the school day.  Lights on After School strives to break that silence by showcasing the depth and breadth of afterschool offerings across Minnesota and across Itasca County.  These events also call attention to the importance of afterschool programs and the resources required to keep the lights on and the doors open.

These events are some of more than an expected 8,000 around the nation the week of October 17th, the annual Lights on Afterschool, organized by the Afterschool Alliance.  Benefits of afterschool programs, include inspiring children to learn, keeping them safe in the sometimes perilous afternoon hours, and relieving working families of worries about their children’s activities in the afternoon.

Let’s celebrate together as a community to provide for our youngest citizens by keeping the lights on afterschool!  Join Itasca Networks for youth, Itasca Area Community Education, and other afterschool programs across the county as they celebrate great, quality afterschool programs in our community.

Visit Itasca Area Community Education to view many afterschool opportunities for your child.

Lights on Afterschool is supported across Minnesota by Ignite Afterschool.