PPS Lights On, Peoria afterschool program aims to keep students focused on their future

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Lights on, Peoria is a Peoria Public Schools weekend after-school program focused on escapism for students from Peoria High and Manual Academy.

“We really want to give our students a place where they can come, where they can feel like they don’t have to be on the street, they don’t have to stay home,” Tagwana Webster said. of Lights On, Peoria.

Webster said it was about creating a safe space for teens to not only participate in fun activities, but also be surrounded by caring adults.

“As you know, right now homicide rates are on the rise, we have so much violence happening in our cities,” Webster said.

She added that the program helps by exposing teens to various activities in the area.

“If you talk to the kids, they say, ‘Oh, that’s so boring, there’s nothing to do in Peoria,’ there’s actually a lot, there’s so many opportunities, but they don’t. don’t know,” Webster said.

A community partner working with Lights On, Peoria, ART inc.is a Peoria nonprofit organization that strives to nurture the community through arts and education.

ART Inc. executives recently held an event with Lights On, Peoria, allowing students to create a painting.

“A lot of kids when they first came in, and they saw the room, and they were like, ‘this is for us,’ I really knew we were doing something super important,” said the Chief Demario Boone, Director of School Safety. for Peoria Public Schools.

Chief Boone thinks Light’s On, Peoria can keep students focused on their future.

“It’s just to give them other outlets because those other outlets have been proven to help kids be successful in the long run,” Chief Boone said.

Nyk Sutter-Downs, program director at ART Inc., said they were happy to be an outlet for students.

“If we’re able as an organization to partner with local community schools and educational organizations to, you know, even if we’re saving a person or making a difference in a child’s life, then we’re doing our work,” Sutter-Des said.

Jurnee Dunigan-Neal, a sophomore at Manual Academy, said Light’s On, Peoria helped her open up.

“When I first came here I was so shy and everyone is so welcoming, they let you in and they try to get you out of your shell, especially the people who know you, and it’s so exciting to being here is really fun,” Dunigan-Neal said.

While the after-school program is a big priority, Webster Light’s On said, Peoria also offers resources for students during the week.

“We have tutors in schools who will help any student who needs more academic help, we also have career coaches if students need to find jobs, we find them jobs, we also take them to excursion, we just took them to Harris- Stowe State University last month,” Webster said.

Webster said Peoria High students wanting to get involved can contact Coach Dixon or Destiny Young, while Manual Academy students can contact Officer Chakira Tubbs or Charmane Russell.