When the COVID-19 stay-at-home order required community centers at our Jamboree properties to close and our after-school programs to be cancelled for the safety of all our residents, kids were initially excited to attend school at home in their pajamas. But Victoria Martinez, Resident Services Coordinator at our Clark Commons property, soon learned that isolation was starting to take a toll on our youngest residents. That’s when she acted to reinstate the after-school program – online.
This flexibility in after-school programming is an intentional part of Jamboree’s REACH approach to customized services that enrich the lives of residents. REACH is an acrostic for five simple values that frame our services for kids, families, seniors, and those living with special needs.
The Clark Commons virtual after-school program began meeting three days a week via a digital video platform. The first topic? Internet safety, its importance, and how to practice it consistently. Victoria found a fun, educational game on this topic that allowed every student to learn by answering the game's questions and choosing the next move.
The students participate in hands-on activities with items they have at home or that require few supplies, along with discussions that relate to a weekly topic. And, the discussions are making a difference. Students are feeling less isolated from their peers. They’re engaged in learning with and from each other. Plus, it’s helping to ease any feelings of anxiety, sadness, and loneliness.
Already, Jamboree is working to create virtual after-school programs at more of its family properties across the state. The community impact team is training onsite Resident Service Coordinators to leverage digital learning platforms. Virtual field trips – like visiting zoos and art museums – mail-order activity kits, and group science projects are opportunities being explored so that age-specific virtual programming can be implemented statewide.
That means students could soon be connecting beyond their own properties and across the county and state with other Jamboree students.
The digital after-school program provides great examples of our REACH acrostic values. Even while remaining at home:
Rina Sandoval, mother of a student in the after-school program, said, “COVID-19 has affected the way the program is provided. But Victoria is a caring, understanding, patient person who always goes above and beyond for the kids and residential community here. My son missed her and the program, so I’m very thankful Victoria found activities for the kids to do together online via Zoom video sessions.”
The virtual after-school program quickly became so beneficial that the students begged Victoria to offer it daily. She and her students now gather online Monday through Friday. How eager are students to connect in the daily virtual program? One parent says her boy prepares his iPad, any supplies needed for the day’s activities – and even the clothes he’s going to wear – the night before because he is that excited about it.