MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Boys and Girls Clubs in Memphis hoped to ease the struggles of learning during a pandemic.
“It is what it is as I say,” said Keith Blanchard, President and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis. “But we felt like that we had to be here.”
For students like the ones at the Oakhaven Club, the day starts at 8 a.m. They log into their digital classrooms and are supervised by tutors on site.
Blanchard said this helps avoid the stress of possible technical or focus issues.
“I think it’s super important that they have somebody here they can turn to,” Blanchard explained. “Especially with the little kids. In the beginning, it was really tough for them to stay focused and understand the technology and really learn to kind of manage through that.”
Blanchard said they average 40 to 50 kids per location and several hundred more virtually. The students are divided up into small classrooms with one tutor each.
Breakfast, lunch and a snack is provided.
Blanchard said an element that can’t be overlooked is how the clubs are giving kids an outlet to express themselves during uncertain times.
“We give them a space to talk about it,” he said. “Talk about their feelings and what’s going on in society and what’s going on in their world and what’s going on at home with their parents. So, I think we’re playing an important role here for Memphis and across the country.”
Blanchard added that they’ve made sure the learning spaces follow strict safety guidelines.
“We did a lot of research,” he said. “A lot of studying. We partnered with Mayor Strickland. The health department and CDC, they came out and Methodist hospital to help us set up all of our protocols and guidelines.”
Blanchard’s is to give essential workers peace of mind that their kids are in good hands.
“If we believe in essential workers and society needs them then they need us and so that’s why we decided to do this,” he said.
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