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Celebrating LightsOn at PS 62 in Queens with Social-Emotional Learning Books!

The annual Lights On Afterschool initiative, held every October, is a nationwide celebration that highlights the vital role afterschool programs play in the lives of young people, families, and communities. It has become a cornerstone of the afterschool movement, shedding light on the various ways these programs empower students, particularly when it comes to social-emotional learning (SEL).

The long-lasting impact of SEL is undeniable, according to Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). “Years after students participated in SEL, their academic performance was an average of 13 percentile points higher than students who didn’t participate,” according to research.

The growing emphasis on SEL across New York City and State has been encouraging. Healing-centered student, family and community engagement is becoming a systemic priority as afterschool has been leading the way.  The New York State Executive Office’s focus on Youth Mental Health, the New York City Public Schools’ incorporation of tele-mental health services for high school students in the current school year, and the mayoral administration’s comprehensive integration of mindful meditation in schools all contribute to this positive trend. This local interest mirrors the national spotlight on the importance of SEL.

Briana Alli, Program Director, Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens, PS 62 students, and Shawn Jean-Louis, Policy Director at ExpandED Schools.

We recently visited P.S. 62, The Chester Park School in Richmond Hill, Queens, a Pre-K through fifth-grade school to commemorate LightsOn. Our mission was to present the Roger Blissett Learning Library Book Set to kindergarteners. The book set was formed to commemorate our 25th anniversary gala honoree and longtime Board Member Roger Blissett for his unwavering dedication to the youth of New York City. Today, the book set serves as a learning opportunity for students to engage one another as they deepen their understanding and embodiment of principles such as courage, friendship, and community.  

“Lights On is an important event at PS 62 because it gives the students the opportunity to learn and discover new skills. This event showcases the activities our program has to offer while consistently ensuring a safe space for the students. The books gifted to us from ExpandEd will improve my program because it shines a light on Social Emotional Learning. The children and staff will be able to dive deeper into the SEL world together to improve their social skills and overall create positive relationships,” said Briana Alli, Program Director at the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens.

In support of this effort, ExpandED Schools remains committed to maintaining and expanding our role as a systemic partner. Our partnership with government and philanthropic leaders helps ensure that direct service providers have the consistent support and resources they need. Our partnerships with direct service providers help ensure that students and families are having their social-emotional needs met and are being put in positions where they can thrive. 

Lights On Afterschool 2023 serves as a reminder of the importance of afterschool programs and their profound impact on students, families, and communities. As we continue to champion social-emotional learning, we should simultaneously continue to hold our city and state leaders accountable to bringing New York closer to providing high quality, universally accessible afterschool programs to all students and families along with valuing their voices. 

To learn more about ExpandED Schools’ SEL program, visit our website.