We at NHA are excited to announce a new expansion of our Resident Services programming in the form of Youth Engagement services! Starting in August 2020, we have been partnering with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest in order to pilot a Youth Education program at Walsh Commons, River Glen, and Seneca Terrace.
While we have always informally offered youth engagement services through our Resident Services program, this Youth Education pilot has taken strategic, formalized steps in order to build a robust, youth-centered program. This has occurred through:
Strategic Listening: At the beginning of August, we sent out a survey to understand better our student population, including their current grade levels, perceived school supply needs, and access to laptop computers and internet. That survey had nearly a 40% response rate, showing that for the upcoming school year of Comprehensive Distanced Learning, many of our families felt youth education was a high priority.
Responding: Based on the student survey, a majority of our families at River Glen, Seneca Terrace, and Walsh Commons properties stated they did not have the necessary school supplies to be successful at school, and many stated they needed books for that academic success. Because of this, we were able to buy Brain Quest books for all of our elementary-aged students, as well as books from the Big Fat Notebook series for middle-school aged students. These supplies help to provide supplemental learning opportunities for students who are currently completing schoolwork through distance learning at home.
Dreaming: Besides responding to the current needs of our residents, we have also taken active steps to build additional program-based supports. This has included the distribution of STEM kits and activities in the time of Comprehensive Distanced Learning so that students have hands-on activities to encourage curiosity and screen-free stimulation. At the same time, we have been writing and distributing a monthly newsletter targeting the holistic, educational needs of families, which has included information such as:
- How dental care and dental health can affect academic success
- Community resources for student mental health
- How laughter and smiling can produce emotional resilience and better physical and mental health outcomes.
Through all these efforts, we have been creating a solid foundation for further youth engagement at NHA family properties, and we are excited for the coming academic semester to continue that progress. Stay tuned for more news about further expansion of the Youth Education program!