“Don’t leave us behind.” That was the rallying cry as parents, youth and afterschool staff got together at PS 215 Tuesday to protest after-school budget cuts citywide. The cuts in Mayor Bloomberg’s 2014 budget would eliminate 47,000 slots and $130 million from after-school programs.
“We will do whatever we must do to stay as we are,” said Marsha Allman, the OST (Out-of-School Time) site director at PS 215/W.A.V.E. Preparatory Elementary School.
Said Gregory Brender, an early childhood and education policy analyst for United Neighborhood Houses, “After school programs and child care programs like this are set to close because Mayor Bloomberg’s budget does not restore funding for after-school and child care for 47,000 children…. The Mayor must take action to insure that we have high quality early childhood education and after-school education for all New York City neighborhoods. We cannot close these programs.”
He urged parents to go to campaignforchildrennyc.com, click on the take action/ email the Mayor and Council link and “Tell them they have to restore money for early childhood and after school.”
Several of the young people who at- tend OST spoke about what the program means to them.
“OST teaches us to be successful in life,” said Brandon Davis, who is in 4th grade. He added “I now have leadership skills.”
Shanell said, “It teaches us what it is like in the real world…. It is not just fun, but a learning experience.”
Jada has been in OST since kindergarten. She said, “If they’re closing OST down, their closing our future.”
Anthon said, “I’ve grown as a person…. I’ve gone from being shy, to being confident. OST is like a second home.”
Many parents talked about the improvements in their children since attending OST. One mother said her daughter has improved in math.
“They helped her in areas she lacks, and I’m very grateful,” said the mother.
Another parent said, “We need OST to help us bring our kids further on.”
Another mother recalled how OST helped parents after superstorm Sandy hit. “They provided workshops for parents after Sandy to relieve the stress. It’s helping all of us – parents and children.”
SafeSpace NYC and the Campaign for Children put the rally together to bring attention to the cuts proposed for the 2014 city budget. OST programs represented at the rally were K.A.P.P.A. VI, PS 105, PS 104, PS 215/W.A.V.E, Prep.