LONGVIEW - On October 20, the Boys and Girls Club of Gregg County hosted a rally called 'Lights on After School'. It's an open door event for visitors to learn how essential it is to keep kids productive when school is over.
For Cynthia Reece, who picks up her son there, she said kids need all the encouragement and activities they can be in.
"I would rather them be in a after-school program than be out in the street," Reece said.
The 21st century community learning centers say 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. are peak hours kids commit juvenile crimes. Since Longview has an increased crime rate, Joyce Williams, program director of the Boys and Girls club, said she can keep kids safe for a few more hours.
"We understand if they're left alone they're left to their own devices," Williams said. "They're left to other people who may not be such a good influence."
Teens like Mae Ingram understand how vital it is to have afterschool programs. She said it's a safe zone for kids.
"Some of these kids are in areas where they're getting worse and the they're [boys and girls club] are trying to not keep kids in there," Ingram said.
Research said more than 40 percent of kids who participate in after-school programs improve their reading and math grades.
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