When schools abruptly moved to online learning in mid-March due to the pandemic, the top priority was transferring academics to virtual platforms so student learning could continue. It wasn’t long before students began to miss out on engaging in-person, extracurricular activities that often kept them connected to school. A partnership between Say Yes Buffalo and Young Audiences of WNY (YAWNY) to deliver high-quality, fun, and meaningful programming in a virtual format came to the rescue.
Prior to the health crisis, Say Yes hosted highly popular “Saturday Academies” in 21 Community Schools to provide ongoing academic learning and enrichment activities to/for students and their families. When in-person gatherings were no longer possible due to social distancing guidelines, Say Yes committed to continuing the Academies with a view that keeping students and their families engaged was critical, especially in a time of stress and isolation. Say Yes and Young Audiences had partnered previously, and the arts organization that is dedicated to arts in education programming, quickly jumped in to create and offer programs that engaged families and kept them coming back for more!
Offered through Zoom and Facebook Live platforms, teaching artists for Young Audiences created three varied programs including Bollywood Dance with Gaitrie Subryan of Devi Bollywood; Movement, Mindfulness, and Mandalas with Kristin Brandt; and The Phonics Program: Alphabet Awareness with Cindy Hanna.
The Phonics segment taught the alphabet through song, dance, and activities; “Bollywood” with an emphasis on dance and mindfulness highlighted the importance of movement and wellness; and Movement, Mindfulness and Mandalas (symbolic images which when meditated on can bring profound inner transformation) focused on stress reduction and social/emotional health. All of the sessions were designed to work for both children and adults and encouraged families to incorporate activities and learnings in daily activities after the sessions.
According to Allison Rabent, Director of Programs for Young Audiences, “Our teaching artists adapted really well to the online format and were able to bring something really fun and engaging to families. It also afforded the artists a wider audience since they could reach so many more people virtually than they normally would in just one classroom.”
Tanya Director of Community Schools at Say Yes added, “Some of our critical metrics are influencing academics, increasing attendance, and engaging parents and the Young Audience sessions did all of these. They were ideal because parents and their kids could participate together and they really looked forward to each session which helped them stay connected, even in these stressful times.”
The two nonprofit organizations plan to continue to partnership for the summer with more weekly Saturday Academies, in addition to weekly “pop up” sessions. While details about how schools will operate in the fall are still unknown, both are making plans for both in-person and virtual programming so that families won’t miss out!
To see a virtual session, click here:
April 27, 2020 – Virtual LitERACY
April 29, 2020 – Virtual LitERACY
May 1, 2020 – Virtual LitERACY