WILL's Pandemic Response:
Due to COVID-19, in March 2020, WILL suspended our normal experiential learning programs. When this happened, we had done approximately one-third of our positive youth development programming for the WILL Year.
Although we cannot provide our programming in person, to continue to engage WILL Youth, we pivoted our approach. We are doing Zoom meetings with WILL youth every two to three weeks on Saturdays for 2 to 2.5 hours that align with WILL's pillars. The topics covered and to be covered are: Systemic Racism, Equity v. Equality, Financial Literacy, SMART Goals, Resume Writing, Interview Skills, 1st Aid, Biases, DEI, and Social Justice, Nutrition, and a College Admissions Forum.
At the beginning of each session, after check-ins, shout-outs, and celebrating recent birthdays, and before we delve into the main subject for the meeting (noted above), we have discussions on topics that have included: WILL's Standing Together Statement, John Lewis, Hispanic Heritage Month and Delores Huerta, RBG, What are you thankful for, Indigenous American Heritage Month (several indigenous proverbs and what WILL youth think of the former name and logo of the Washington Football team), Leave No Trace Ethics, the insurrection at The Capitol, Amanda Gorman's poem The Hill We Climb, and Black Heritage Month.
Some of the words WILL youth have used to describe the Zoom meetings and the information discussed, include: beneficial, compelling, constructive, cool, educational, empowering, encouraging, engaging, enlightening, equity, fascinating, fun, helpful, hopeful, informational, important, interesting, inspiring, motivating, peaceful, powerful, rejuvenating, stimulating, togetherness, unity, uplifting, and useful.
We have frequent outreach to/with WILL youth and families to reinforce that they matter and we care. To provide some support, in the late spring of 2020, WILL gave each WILL family a $100 VISA card, and, during the Holidays, to provide some additional assistance and holiday cheer, we gave WILL families $175 VISA cards.
When conditions allow us to restart normal WILL activities, we look forward to completing the program Year with the 16th WILL Class and our journey together.