"Our parents need to go to work sometimes and they can't leave us at home alone," said 9-year-old Ayana Barnes. "That is why it's important to have an afterschool program."
The mayor's preliminary budget for fiscal year 2014 includes $130 million in budget cuts to afterschool and childcare programs. These cuts could affect 47,000 kids from all over the city, according to Campaign for Children.
Children who attended the rally not only spoke out against the budget cuts but also showed what would be lost if they didn't have afterschool programs.
Young girls from Sports and Arts in Schools in Queens offered a double-dutch performance, kids from Stanley Isaacs Center sang an original song and little ones from Union Settlement showed off their drum beats — all skills that were learned in afterschool programs.
"I didn't just learn how to play sports and do activities, I also learned how to speak my mind," said Erinn Cruz, 14.
She added that the afterschool programs in her community keep kids off the street and relieve the stress some parents feel about who will look after their children while they work.
"To cut these programs would be a disservice to the community," she said.
The mayor's office declined to comment on the afterschool cuts specifically.
"We’re working with the City Council to deliver an on-time, balanced budget that keeps the city’s fiscal house in order, while also protecting vital services," said Lauren Passalacqua, spokeswoman for the mayor.