Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network Honors 2011 Afterschool Champions

Mar 07, 2011, 18:14 ET from Center for Schools and Communities

Seventeen programs and leaders recognized for innovation and excellence in afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire learning and help working families.

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) will name 17 individuals and organizations as Afterschool Champions for the outstanding work they are doing to develop, support and promote meaningful high-quality afterschool/out-of-school time programs to benefit children, youth and families across Pennsylvania. The awards will take place during the PSAYDN annual reception, which will bring together elected officials, program providers, youth, faith-based leaders, parents and business leaders from across the commonwealth to emphasize the importance of afterschool programs in the state. Included among the champions is PA State Representative Jake Wheatley. The event will take place:

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lancaster/Gettysburg/Carlisle Ballroom

Hilton Harrisburg

One North Second Street

Harrisburg, PA

Afterschool programs pick up where the school day leaves off. In addition to offering kids a safe, supervised place to go before and after school, on weekends and during summers to get academic help, programs provide a variety of activities—art, music, dance, sports, science, service learning, career exploration and much more—that helps kids develop new interests and skills. The Afterschool Champion Awards honor programs and individuals for excellence in the service of children, schools and communities.

"These Afterschool Champions lead through example. Their outstanding commitment and hard work have been recognized by the peers, leaders and community members who nominated them," said PSAYDN director Kacy Conley. We are thrilled to shine the light on their inspiring accomplishments."

The Afterschool Champions being honored are:

Edward Joseph Bender of Adams County 4-H Science Program; Board of Directors Greater Johnstown School District; Bettyann Creighton, Director of Health, Safety and Physical Education, School District of Philadelphia; Vicki Ellis, Director, Afterschool Programs School Support, Office of School Operations, School District of Philadelphia; Rick Evans, Executive Director, Jewish Community Center of Wyoming Valley; Dorothy Hershey, Somali Refugee Children's Afterschool Program; Robert Kreamer, Executive Director North Penn Valley Boys & Girls Club; Rachel Loeper, Program Director, Mighty Writers; Hellen McCollum, Director, C.B. Moore Recreation Center Afterschool Program; Nelson Negron, Middle School Mentor, Regency Park Afterschool Program; The Honorable Wayne Nothstein, Carbon County Commissioner; Ryan Oelkers, Founder, Cadence Cycling Foundation; Virginia Robinson of Salvation Army Learning Zone; Maria Walker, Executive Director, After School Activities Partnerships; The Honorable Jake Wheatley, PA House of Representatives; Brian Witmer, Owner, State Farm Insurance; Yocum Institute for Arts Education.

"Formative, out-of-school hours can be filled with quality youth development programs that not only promote the well-being of our children and youth, but also families," Conley said. "Increased academic achievement, reduced criminal activity, and positive social development are the results of high-quality afterschool activities."

According to the landmark America After 3PM study conducted for the Afterschool Alliance, more than half a million Pennsylvania children need – but don't have – afterschool programs, even as statewide demand for afterschool programs has increased.

"Too many Pennsylvania children who need afterschool programs don't have them, and families are carrying a heavier burden as a result," Conley said. "Afterschool Champions are critical for building support from all sectors – from the business and philanthropic communities, as well as from the government at all levels."

The event will also highlight PSAYDN's work to promote sustainable, high-quality out-of-school time (OST) youth development programs through advocacy and capacity building to enhance the welfare of Pennsylvania's children, youth and families. In 2004, PSAYDN began as a 65-member coalition, and now has approximately 1,200 members representing all regions of the commonwealth.

Entertainment for the event will include youth from Danzante Community Art Center and the Center for Champions presenting a special step dance performance and music by Youth All Star Jazz Band of Central PA Friends of Jazz.

Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) promotes sustainable, high-quality out-of-school time youth development programs through advocacy and capacity building to enhance the welfare of Pennsylvania's children, youth and families. PSAYDN believes all children and youth deserve access to programs that encourage positive youth development and support the successful transition to adulthood. PSAYDN is managed by the Center for Schools and Communities. More information is available at

CONTACT: Aylissa Kiely Tyndale, +1-717-903-0219,

SOURCE Center for Schools and Communities