As students complete their 10th week of e-learning, our Youth Development teams continue to maintain close contact with our students and their families, providing supplemental tools for academic enrichment and encouraging creative and fun ways of connecting. Collaboration with each local school has been essential in ensuring each child has the technology and support to succeed.

Program Coordinators are in weekly contact with each family to support parents, to assist with student and/or family needs and creating comprehensive educational tools.

“WYFS afterschool and mentoring programs are holding at least one virtual ‘hangout’ weekly, so students and volunteers have opportunity to engage and maintain gains made through program” shares Leslee Cremer, Youth Services Director. “My tutor is so fun, he even plays games with me online during the stay-at-home. I’m glad he’s my friend”, shares Ben, 11, Quest and LINK student.

“Individualized outreach has been key,” reports Lathie Norton, Site Director at our York Center, “One school asked us to step in after struggling with engagement from two students. Staff called each family, powered through the language barrier, and worked with each child over the phone, helping them with their assignments and getting them back on track. One student (who also struggles with virtual learning because he is so shy) even joined ‘Zoom GodTime’ last week for the first time.”

For many kids, the social isolation and academic challenge has been a big setback. However, for one student, it has given him time to blossom in his home environment, providing extra playtime with his little brother and more time to connect with his parents. During the Elementary Program Zoom this week, he commented, “It is all about filling someone else’s bucket, isn’t it?” –  a reference to the concept the staff had taught: we all carry an emotional ‘bucket’ that when full, makes us feel good, and when empty, feel sad. Lathie noted, “This young student seems to understand that is what’s most important. It has been a blessing to watch him blossom in a time that has been such a challenge.”

Outreach is committed to remotely supporting our students for as long as necessary. We will continue to plan for an academically enriching, safe and fun summer program, which will be more important this year than ever before!