Program promotes after school activities

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

The Portales Recreation Center was constructed to provide something to do for the children of Portales, and Thursday the children took full advantage of it.

Portales children had light bulbs painted on their faces, decorated pumpkins, had their hair spray-painted as part of the first Lights on Afterschool program.

Sabrina Montoya and Monique Ruiz, both 10-year-olds, were two of the first children to get their faces painted.

“They did a good job of painting my face,” Montoya said.
Shortly after the Valencia Elementary fifth-grade girls had their faces painted, a line of more than 20 kids formed seeking paint on their faces and hair.

Ruiz said she wanted to decorate a pumpkin with cats on it, because she likes cats and has some at her house.

“We usually come here after school,” Montoya said about the recreation center. “We like to play basketball here and pool.”

Portales Recreation Director Johnny Ledbetter and two members of the Youth Opportunities Center, Perla Pillado and Janine Elder helped put the event together. Oct. 20 is nationally-recognized as Lights on Afterschool by the Afterschool Alliance.

“I think it’s a great thing to have for kids,” Pillado said. “Kids have more events to participate in and these types of activities keep them away from gangs and drugs.”

Lights on Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating after-school activities. The Afterschool Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of after-school programs, according to their Web site. The goal of the alliance is for all children to have access to after-school programs by 2010.

Chris Urioste, a Lindsey Elementary sixth-grader, was immersed in decorating his pumpkin on Thursday evening.
“I’m looking forward to winning the DVD player,” Urioste said about the night’s activities. Unfortunately for Urioste, Elvira Nunez won the DVD player as the grand door prize, later on. “I like playing all the games on the program. I come here (recreation center) almost every day after school.”

Shane Faust, a Portales parent, brought two of his sons, Jarret and Jay to participate in the activities while he held his 14-month-old daughter, Teagan.

“We feel pretty safe leaving them here with Johnny (Ledbetter),” Faust said. “They get to visit with their friends. There’s not a whole lot of extra curricular activities for kids in Portales.”

There were contests for decorating pumpkins and also door prizes given out. The funny-face pumpkin-decorating winners were: Ages 5-7, first place Braden Vineyard, second place Anthony Medillion; Ages 8-10, first place Shannon Begay, second place Tearah Lucero; Ages 11-and-up, first place Takisha Phillips,second place Deya Sigala .

The winners in the scary-face pumpkin-decorating contests were: Ages 5-7, first place Tyler Davis, second place Robin Morgan; Ages 8-10, first place Katie Ledbetter, second place Zachariah Picart; Ages 11-and-up, first place, Rodney Curnutt, second place Jessie Ornelas.