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MACS and Venture Outdoors head to the Capitol for Afterschool Advocacy Day

Afterschool Advocacy Day

On May 3, we returned to the state capital with students to participate in the Afterschool Advocacy Day. Afterschool activities help to protect youth mental well-being, accelerate learning, build workforce skills, and more. The return-on-investment for investing in out-of-school time in Pennsylvania was $6.69 for every dollar spent! This was our chance to speak to legislators about how important we think out-of-school time activities are. 

Nine students from Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS) joined Venture Outdoors staff to meet with legislators, share their story about participating in out-of-school time, and explore the Capitol building. These MACS students are a part of Venture Outdoors’ afterschool elective, where they meet weekly with our staff to fish, kayak, bike, geocache, and more.  

A Different Type of Adventure

Buses departed bright and early at 6AM from Pittsburgh to travel to Harrisburg. Along the way, we couldn’t believe we actually saw snow falling! Pittsburgh weather continues to keep us on our toes. 

By 9:30am, we stepped off the bus to take in the grandeur of the Capitol building. We then hurried inside to make our first appointment with Senator Brewster, to talk with him about the importance of afterschool. We then had a chance to walk up (and down) many flights of beautiful marble stairs to take a seat overlooking the House of Representatives floor. The room is stunning! There are massive century-old paintings that adorn the walls and center dome, and large, high-hanging chandeliers that require a weeks’ worth of scaffold-building in order to change a lightbulb. 

After a recharge at lunch, we participated in the Afterschool Pep Rally outside on the Capitol steps, to hear from speakers who both support and have been impacted by out-of-school time activities. One of the speakers, Neka Shukla, is a teen scientist and shared with us that she learned how to code in her afterschool program and even had a chance to meet Apple CEO Tim Cook to share her app idea! 

It was a fun day, filled with lots of learning, stairs, and snacks. Students were asked to complete a reflection after the day wrapped up. Here’s what they had to say: 

What was your favorite part about Afterschool Advocacy Day?

  • The capitol building 
  • Walking up the stairs, it was funny 
  • Lunch! 
  • The speech 
  • Being outside at the rally with friends and other people even though it was long and cold 
  • The house floor 
  • The House of Representatives room 
  • The snacks 
  • Sitting down and laughing 

What’s one new thing you learned?

  • It’s huge inside. 
  • That the chandeliers are 2000 pounds. 
  • That the capital of PA is in Harrisburg. 
  • Harrisburg actually has a population and it’s an actual city and not in the middle of nowhere. 
  • I don’t like stairs (Lol). 
  • How the paintings got in the House of Rep floor. 
  • It’s really far. 
  • Very big, I’d never been there. 

Do you think afterschool is important?

  • Yes, you’re getting out more. 
  • Yes, it helps young people and future leaders grow. 
  • I do think afterschool activities are important because those activities can bring your closer to your goal in life. 
  • Yes, it gives people a chance to do something fun while still learning . 
  • Yes, because they help kids make friends and keep them out of dangerous unsafe and uncomfortable environments/situations. 
  • Yes, because it is a place to have fun, learn and try new things.
  • I do think they are important because they help people focus bad energy. 

We are SO grateful to the Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST), A+ Schools, and PA Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network (PSADYN) for making this special field trip possible!

MACS has been a school partner in our Outdoor Learning Lab program since the program began in 2014.

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