YMCA of Greater Brandywine Calls on Legislators to Invest in Pennsylvania Youth
Every dollar invested in Out-Of-School-Time (OST) Programs yields a 669% return on investment that benefits all Pennsylvanians
WEST CHESTER – Middle school is a formative time for the youth of Chester County. And, what happens outside of the classroom, matters just as much as what happens inside.
This is why the YMCA of Greater Brandywine sponsored Advocacy Day events across Chester County this week – to rally support for Out-Of-School-Time (OST) Programs. Chester County legislators joined with students, community members and leadership from YMCA of Greater Brandywine to reflect on the importance of OST Programs.
“Research shows that investing in out-of-school-time (OST) programs benefits all Pennsylvanians,” noted Denise Day, CEO of YMCA of Greater Brandywine. “Children with access to quality OST programs are less likely to drop out of school or turn toward substance abuse and violent crime. And so, we are committed to providing Chester County youth with a healthy foundation – and a chance to find their purpose in our community.”
Free YMCA Membership for Local Seventh Graders
Day joined with Chester County youth to highlight the 7th Grade Initiative, which offers local seventh graders a complimentary one-year youth membership to the YMCA of Greater Brandywine. She went on to explain, “Our 7th Grade Initiative helps kids fall in love with an active way of life. Kids at this age are discovering who they are, and we want to ensure that they’re set up for future success through an active lifestyle.”
Annually, more than 1,100 seventh graders throughout Chester County participate in this program which is funded by generous corporate, individual and foundational donors. But there is a vast need for more funding to serve more families.
775,000+ Pennsylvania Youth Lacking OST Programs
“For every child enrolled in an OST program, four kids are waiting to get in. We never want to turn a child or family away because of financial barriers,” explained Day. To close the financial gap, Day and members of the Chester County community called on local legislators and community leaders to support the Building Opportunity through Out of School Time (BOOST) Program legislation.
The BOOST program aims to create a dedicated funding stream to support OST programs for kids in our community. The BOOST Program legislation needs more co-sponsors in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to serve children lacking before-and-after-school programs. According to data from a 2020 survey, over 775,000 Pennsylvania students would participate in an afterschool program, if one were available to them.