FARMINGTON — Events across San Juan County on Thursday will draw attention to after-school programs and the ways they support students.

Programs in Farmington and Aztec are among 8,000 events throughout the country planned for Lights On Afterschool. The Afterschool Alliance organized the events as part of a nationwide rally to promote the need for more after-school programs to serve unsupervised and at risk-youth.

Lights On Afterschool is a national program to raise awareness about the number of students who don't have a safe place to go to after school, said Melanie Leeson, Teen Zone technician at the Farmington Public Library.

"Here in Farmington, we encourage kids to come to (the Farmington Public Library)," Leeson said. "We have many, many, many after-school programs for all ages. We want to give them all a safe place for things to do."

At 4 p.m. Thursday at the library, children can participate in a number of activities. Staff have been dressing up the library lab for activities like tic-tac-toe, ring toss and cup stacking, all of which will glow under black lights that illuminate the room.

The Aztec Boys and Girls Club will hold a fitness and recreation program focused on baseball exercises from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday as part of the healthy lifestyles focus at the club.

As a part of a program called "Wanna Play?" children will participate in a number of different baseball activities to improve fitness skills and encourage awareness of health living.

Chief Professional Officer Erin Collins said healthy lifestyles are a main component of the lessons the club teaches.

"We want to teach our kids to make a decision and try to be healthy individuals," Collins said.

After-school programs like the ones hosted by the library provide a space where children can be treated with respect, said Caitlin Schaffer, a youth services librarian at the Farmington Public Library. They also help students boost their literacy and social skills, she said.

"It helps them feel like they are part of the community," Schaffer said. "They have a space to go where they feel safe and just have a really good time."

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.