Summit student receives national honor as Youth Afterschool Ambassador

February 28, 2023

Washington, D.C. — The Afterschool Alliance announced today that Madelyn Hinkleman, an 11th grade student at Summit High School and a Youth Voice Leader for the South Dakota Afterschool Network, is serving in its 2023 class of Youth Afterschool Ambassadors. Hinkleman is one of just seven students from across the nation selected for the honor. She was chosen on the basis of her essay in a competition held last year.

The seven Youth Ambassadors promote the value and impact of afterschool programs by sharing their experiences in these programs and their views about the role afterschool programs play in their communities. The Youth Ambassadors will participate in the annual Afterschool Alliance Youth Voice Week as well as connect with members of Congress and their aides as part of the annual Afterschool for All Challenge later this year. They also write for the Afterschool Snack, the Afterschool Alliance blog, about the importance of afterschool programs.

“We are thrilled that Madelyn is in the 2023 class of Youth Afterschool Ambassadors,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “She has a powerful story to tell about the impact afterschool programs have had in her life, and we are proud to give her a platform to share her experiences and advocate for afterschool. Afterschool programs keep students safe, inspire them to learn, provide peace of mind to working parents, and also help children re-engage and recover during this difficult time. But sadly, too many young people don’t have a program available to them. Madelyn will do a terrific job showing us all why we need to expand afterschool programs to reach more of her peers.”

“I’m so excited to serve as a Youth Afterschool Ambassador,” said Hinkleman. “I was in the fifth grade when a new program started at my school, and it became a second home to me. This program gave me a new path to follow and helped me become a leader in my community. It gave me an opportunity to discover who I was, take risks, and try new things, such as 3-D printing, community service projects, volunteering as a tutor and even face painting. From dancing in public for the first time, to helping plan a Lights On Afterschool event as a middle schooler, to speaking in front of crowds and with legislators, my afterschool program has helped me conquer my fears, build my confidence, and gave me a safe place after school. I am excited to advocate for afterschool programs as a Youth Afterschool Ambassador because I want all students to have the opportunity to explore their interests and discover their hidden talents like I have.”

The seven Youth Afterschool Ambassadors in this class come from Alabama, Delaware, California, Florida, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Washington. They are:

Trinity Ansley, from San Diego, California’s Urban League Project Ready, age 17
Jamora Arroyo-Jefferson, from Miami, Florida’s Breakthrough Miami, PAMM Teen Arts Council, Miami Waterkeeper Junior Ambassador Program, and The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade Youth Advisory Committee, age 17
Spencer Harrison, from Pryor, Oklahoma’s Tiger Pride Clubs, age 13
Madelyn Hinkleman, from Summit, South Dakota’s South Dakota Afterschool Network, age 16
Katelyn Miller, from Birmingham, Alabama’s Create 205 Lab, age 17
Avery Reisinger, from Puyallup, Washington’s Kids Rank Afterschool Club, Summer Club, and Youth Advisory Board, age 16
Nekayla Stokes, from New Castle, Delaware’s Black Student Union, Delaware Afterschool Network, and United Way of Delaware, age 16

Some 24.7 million U.S. children not in an afterschool program would be enrolled, if a program were available to them, according to a survey of 1,500 parents commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance and conducted by Edge Research in May and June of 2022. That is the highest number ever recorded. Unmet demand for afterschool programs is significantly higher among Latino and Black children (at 60% and 54% respectively) than among children overall (49%). Cost is the top barrier to enroll, cited by 57% of parents as a reason for not enrolling their child.