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Mayor Sly James Stresses Importance Of After-School And Summer Programs For Kids

Lisa Rodriguez
KCUR 89.3
James speaks with a concerned citizen from Overland Park Saturday, before the Municipal Summit on Afterschool and Expanded Learning.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James joined city leaders and educators from Missouri and Kansas Saturday at the Kauffman Foundation for the Municipal Summit on Afterschool and Expanded Learning to discuss the importance of after-school and summer programs for students.

James says once students are out of school for the summer, there’s not always a lot for them to do — which he says puts them at risk for participating in dangerous activities.

James said across Missouri and Kansas, only 14 percent of school-aged kids participate in after-school events.

“What are the other 86 percent doing? I will guarantee you that not all of the 86 percent are engaged in helping ladies across the street or carrying groceries out of stores… some of them are engaged in some pretty risky behaviors,” James says.

Credit Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Mayors, city council members and education advocates gathered at the Kauffman Foundation Saturday to learn about after-school and summer learning programs.

As he welcomed the room full of city mayors, council people and education advocates, James praised programs like Mayor’s Nights and Turn The Page that he says keep young people safe and provide them with positive role models.

He says research shows getting more young people involved could reduce crime and keep them safer.

“When our kids are involved in our summer programming, juvenile crime and juvenile victimization is down 18 percent,” James says.

Joining James in leading the summit was Leawood, Kansas Mayor Peggy Dunn, who echoed many of James’ sentiments.

“Research shows that if there were more opportunities, the youth would engage, they would be part of those,” Dunn says.

She said she hoped that by hearing initiatives from other cities, everyone could come away with several ideas for summer and after-school programming.

The Municipal Summit on Afterschool and Expanded Learning is part of a series of summits hosted by the National League of Cities. They aim to connect leaders across the region so they can develop partnerships and build collaborative after-school systems.

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and associate producer of KCUR's Up To Date. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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