A virtual experience

With families cooped up inside for prolonged periods of time during the COVID-19 quarantine, tension can arise, making a home feel like tight quarters very quickly.

To help keep families stress-free while cooped up inside, the Boys & Girls Club of Walker County is challenging families to stay engaged and connected during school closures through their social media challenge, #virtualBGCWC.

“It’s a challenge because our kids need us, they need after school care, they need day-to-day care, so we came up with a social media challenge to try to keep them engaged, keep them learning and give them some things to do over the course of the next week,” Boys & Girls Club of Walker County chief executive officer Michelle Spencer said.

#VirtualBGCWC features a different activity daily that falls in line with the club’s five core areas including leadership, education, physical activities, the arts and recreation.

“We’re just trying to stay grounded in what we do and what we believe in at Boys & Girls Club,” Spencer said.

This week’s challenges include Magical Reading Day, National Scrabble Day, Healthy Habits, Online Videos and National Let’s Laugh Day. Participants are encouraged to stay connected and share their activity completions on Facebook via the social media hashtag #virtualBGCWC.

“We had a family that used the hashtag #virtualBGCWC and they were reading and it was just really great to see that kids are continuing to be engaged in learning while they’re on this really crazy break,” Spencer said.

Following suit with HISD, the Boys & Girls Club of Walker County closed its doors after spring break and is now in its second week of closure. The club is tentatively slated to reopen with the school district on April 6, however in the case that the closure is extended, the challenges will be changed each week to keep kids exercising kid’s minds. Spencer notes that like many businesses and institutions at this time, the club is working day-to-day and moment-by-moment to try to prepare for what comes next.

“Our staff are working from home creating these social media challenges, they’re doing online training, they are preparing for our summer hours by activity planning and requisitioning supplies … We’re just trying to be prepared,” Spencer said.

In the meantime, the building has been cleaned and sanitized during the break and the staff is now waiting to resume normal activities with their kids.

The social media challenge schedule and supporting information can be found on the Boys & Girls of Walker County website and Facebook page, in addition to links to recommended online learning activities.

“Play a puzzle online, do a word search, do some reading, watch some healthy habit exercise videos – just fun things to keep them engaged and out of their parents’ hair during this time,” Spencer said.

With a lack of membership fees and grants to sustain the program during its facility closure, Spencer encourages the community to continue to give to the club, ensuring that its doors remain open to their 459 registered members once the pandemic is over.

“All of our grants are subject to direct services, so because we’re not receiving services, we’re not receiving those funds at this time,” Spencer said. “Individual giving is so important to us right now to be able to make it through this pandemic, uncertainty and crazy change in our society right now.”

Donations can be made on the Boys & Girls Club of Walker County website at https://www.walkercountykids.org/give-today