PLAY Program Responds to COVID-19
While the spread of COVID-19 has created physical distance between youth and Community Mentors, our commitment to community partners remains the same: to ensure children and youth have access to positive opportunities to play and learn. The challenges posed by social distancing have been met with great creativity. It has been inspiring to see the efforts of Community Mentors to continue to provide playful and educational program opportunities.
We have witnessed Community Mentors create and distribute “PLAY Packs” to families to keep playing to learn happening in homes. These packs look different across PLAY partners, and have included: art activities (e.g. edible play-doh recipes), cultural activities (e.g. medicine pouch making, drum-making), science education (e.g. gardening and egg drop contests supplies), and healthy snacks.
Similarly, some Community Mentors have hosted remote art classes, and other program activities, so that children and youth can continue to learn new skills and positively express themselves through online learning. Community Mentors have also shared community-wide challenges for families to participate in from home. Bkejwanong First Nation is leading a drive-by Easter Egg Hunt; families are painting windows and decorating their homes in an effort to brighten the community spirit during COVID-19.
During this time, Right To Play has adapted our approach to supporting program partners in a few important ways:
- We have temporarily paused in-person coaching and support visits to communities and are shifting our focus towards remote coaching and training for Community Mentors.
- We have modified program deliverables in order to account for the changes to program structures and to provide responsive support to partners that are designing new and safe ways to engage young people and families.
- We are creating and sharing new program resources each week. These resources include adapted games and activities that can be led by children, youth or parents in the home, as well as weekly challenges that Community Mentors can share with their communities to spark engagement and learning.
- We are continuing to connect with organizations and people in our network to determine opportunities for collective responses to the needs of program partners.
At Right To Play we are inspired by the creativity and tenacity of the First Nation, Métis and Inuit program partners, Community Mentors and youth, and we are committed to exploring new and innovative ways to support children and youth to continue learning and leading in the weeks ahead.