According to a heart-wrenching story posted by Krista B. in Club Stories on July 20th, 2020, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America are truly reaching out to help youths in need. This 5th grade math teacher had been working with struggling students already, but when Covid-19 caused the shutdown of her school (along with most other schools in America), the struggles worsened. With the transition to online classes, this teacher noticed that many of the students were not handing in assignments on time and eventually, many students stopped logging in to the school’s online portal altogether. One day, she recalls, the mother of one of her students phoned her in tears! Because of the pandemic, this single mother had lost her job and she and her family had to move to temporary housing at a hotel. She called to apologize that her daughter had not handed in the assignments on time and tried to explain.
This teacher continues to divulge that some of her students were struggling even during regular times. However, once Covid-19 hit, their struggles seemed to multiply exponentially. To her dismay, even though she, her school, and colleagues had re- calibrated lesson plans to accommodate the new online learning platform in hopes that they would only be temporary, their worst fear - that students would fall even further behind - came true. As Ms. Krista B. puts it, “the learning gaps …that already existed were widening by the minute.”
Many students live with caregivers and family members who work in grocery stores and fast food chains that have not only remained open during this pandemic, but also added extra working hours. This caused an even greater strain for some of the students, many of whom had to take care of younger siblings while their parents worked extra hours. On top of this, many of these students were receiving meals at schools that were no longer opened, causing more hardship on caregivers trying to provide adequate food for their children. Despite many schools offering free lunch programs to aid these families, without a car or bus services, families were unable to avail themselves of this provision. If family members decided to stay home to care for their children, they ultimately ended up losing their jobs. It began a vicious cycle.
At the start of this pandemic, which leaders hoped would not last as long as it has, many support systems had already caved-in. As the crisis unfolded, government systems that had been put in place previously to support families in need (free lunch, childcare, education, etc.) closed down, leaving families unprepared and ill-equipped for the weeks and months to come. Even the locations where many students would go to access free wi-fi (McDonald’s, for example) were no longer available to students. When students who were already struggling were suddenly faced with school closures and free lunch programs ceasing, the learning gaps continued to widen. The system seemed to be collapsing like a house of cards.
This is where the Boys and Girls Clubs of America stepped in to bridge some of these gaps by offering no-cost tutors and mentors, both online and on the phone. They call students to check in on their progress and offer any assistance that they can. They try to make learning fun again for many of these students who might otherwise fall through the cracks. Additionally, the Club offered free food delivery to families in need or arranged special pick-up times to receive these groceries. In fact, one night,
the Club gave out pizzas which made a lot of the children feel a sense of normalcy in the midst of this crisis!
This is why the Boys and Girls Club of America is so important. They make a difference in children’s lives!
“Give more kids the educational and emotional support they need now.”
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