The pandemic has changed what youth and families need, and how providers can help meet those needs. In tandem, SOWA and Best Starts have adapted our supports for the cohort, all with the shared goal of fostering thriving communities. Since then, we’ve seen the unique and vital role our field plays within the landscape of our communities—it’s never been more apparent how much our work matters.
While in program, kids could have some of their social emotional learning needs met with casual time they were craving with the other kids in the neighborhood, and have meaningful interactions with supportive adults. “They weren’t able to talk to their teachers, so they came to us and asked questions about Black Lives Matter. We’ve been able to really deepen our relationships with them.” Says Cyoon. “I’ve learned so much from them, and am so impressed with the knowledge and awareness that they have.” Jeff says “by creating better relationships with families, everyone is used to us walking down the street towards their house. The more open sessions, even just a normal check-in question have been so impactful. We definitely want to keep some element of virtual program moving forward, to stay connected with kids who aren’t able to attend in person.”
“Sometimes we get stuck in cycles of how things have been instead of being curious about what could be. We want to have a growth mindset about how to change things!” Andy, was quick to seize the opportunity COVID-19 presented to do things differently. He says other organizations can navigate the upheaval by “reflecting on past relationships, and thinking ‘what’s the next evolution of our partnerships? We’ve worked with organizations in that capacity, but what about this?’” The deepening partnership between NH and the Library means that multiple new ways for youth to engage in reading have blossomed.
What does it mean to fail? What needs to be renegotiated in how we talk about success and challenge? If youth workers strive to foster growth mindset in the young people they work with, what does it mean to extend that kind of grace to ourselves, to remain tenacious as adults? The coronavirus pandemic has provided seemingly endless “creative opportunities” to do things differently. Filipino Community of Seattle (FCS) demonstrates remarkable agility and unwavering commitment to their mission, even when things don’t go according to plan.
Out-of-School Time program staff arepartnering with parents in new ways during this pandemic. With in-person programming mostly closed down, kids are connecting with youth programs virtually from their living rooms and kitchens.And staff are getting creative.