Afterschool program encourages young remote learners to unplug

By KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With many of the city’s school-aged children attending virtual classes, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation is unleashing a new program that encourages them to unplug.

A big part of Parks and Rec’s mission is to get people out and active — a task proven to be easier said than done, as the department has had to adapt throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

One thing that’s notably been missing is its after school programming, but it is coming back in a new form, while still following safe COVID-19 protocols.

“We want to offer kids a break from being in their homes, from being in front of their screens all day,” said Parks and Rec Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell.

Afterschool Unplugged allows kids to participate in skills and drills programs, like flag football, soccer and basketball, as well as arts and crafts.

The program is available at 49 different centers, and they each follow the city’s COVID-19 precautions. Ott Lovell suggests families register their kids as soon as possible.

“Small groups of 10 to 15 children will participate in cohorts, so they will stay with that same group of children like we did our summer camps and access centers,” she explained.

“This pandemic has meant more screen time than ever,” she continued, “and it’s just really important to get families accessible and affordable physical recreation activities and socialization opportunities for their children.”

Children 6 to 12 are eligible. The program runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Afterschool Unplugged is free in some locations and up to $30 a week in others. It is scheduled to run through May 2021.