Desmond Green, 11, likes his after-school program at Seeliger Elementary School and he wants officials in Washington, D.C., to know why.
"I like to play outside and I like to draw," he wrote on a cutout of a light bulb Tuesday afternoon. "Latchkey is the best place to go and have fun."
Desmond's light bulb, along with the light bulbs of students from more than 5,000 communities across America, will be sent to the nation's capital in honor of the fourth annual Lights on After School celebration Oct. 9.
The celebration is planned to call attention to after-school programs and the resources required to keep the lights on and the doors open.
"Kids shouldn't be going home to an empty house," said Barbara Singer, director of Carson City Recreation Department. "In an after-school program, they're doing something creative and constructive. They're not out wandering the streets."
Across the country, at least 7 million children go home alone after school and the parents of more than 28 million school-age children work outside the home.
Singer and Diane McCoy, area director for the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada, are teaming up to bring the celebration to Carson City.
"They're totally different programs but they both serve the community in their own ways," Singer said. "They give the kids a place to go."
On Oct. 9, members of the Boys & Girls Club plan to ride a bus to the satellite club at Empire Elementary School. There, they will all fill out their own light bulbs with the reasons they like their club.
"We have the kids that we serve at Empire, but the kids at the main club never get the opportunity to go there," McCoy said. "This is a way to show them another program that they're a part of. It gives them ownership."
The after-school programs sponsored through the recreation department is fee-based and more structured. The Boys & Girls Club has less structure and costs about $10 per year.
"Parents need to look at both programs and decide which one is best for their child," Singer said. "Each child is different and each child has his own needs and abilities."
Both offer help with homework.
"If I do my homework here, I don't have to do anything at home. I can just play," said Alex Sanchez, 8.
Allison Johnson,10, has been in the latchkey program since the first grade, but she has never appreciated the help as much as she has this year.
"I'm in fifth grade so I have a lot of homework now."