The Novel Coronavirus has presented Hope Solutions’ Youth Enrichment Program (YEP) with new challenges in supporting academic and social support for students and their families. The YEP team has worked quickly to ensure every family has access to technology to support online learning and case management outreach. They have offered creative alternatives as needed. Technology needs include internet access, laptops, and noise-cancelling headphones. To maintain academic progress, Hope Solutions has adapted the YEP to include virtual services so that our youth academic progress continues during the pandemic. For school-age youth, this includes offering online tutoring in exchange for the in-person Homework Club, and the development of a private YouTube channel that hosts recorded stories and art projects from staff. For the preschool age-children, we have held online early childhood enrichment sessions via Zoom. A parent recently shared, “We really appreciate you and your work with our daughter. It’s really preparing her for a bright future.”
Where technology is not available, the YEC staff creates homework packets and delivers them. Rosemary, one of our YEC’s, has created a newsletter for the parents with resources and advice on how to help the youth with homework and beyond. She, along with her colleagues, give parents and youth positive and encouraging feedback to get through these tough times. Families have been reassured that we are there for them, in any way that they need.
In addition to advocating for additional technology, the Youth Enrichment Coordinators (YEC) have spent extra hours connecting with schools and teachers to support students with their work and connecting families to additional resources online and in the community. This includes virtual parenting groups, tri-weekly interactive activities, remote games and movie nights. Youth Activity Kits have been created and provided to children of all ages so that they have new games, art supplies, and additional modalities for learning from home.
In addition, the YEC staff are helping families access local food resources. They are also finding new ways to engage volunteers, including online Zoom tutoring and mask-making for students. Virtual Summer Camps are currently being designed so that the youth can access enrichment activities such as art, cooking, theater and improv, music, STEM/science, games, online field trips, and more.
The Youth Enrichment program continues to meet the needs of our youth and their families in the face of the pandemic and wholeheartedly inspiring our youth and children to become life-long learners.