The disruption of school and social interactions for children and youth – who are still developing social and resiliency skills – from the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult. Over the past year, APAH’s Resident Services team has helped parents navigate virtual schooling, provided financial resources to help households acquire the technology they need for remote school, like headphones or a desk designated for learning, and found innovative ways to engage these young residents while providing opportunities to explore the world around them. All while remaining safe at home.
In early 2021, APAH provided families at our Arlington properties the opportunity to request educational kits for their children. Mars Base Camp kits, which were part of the 2020 4-H STEM Challenge, explored a mission to Mars and taught students ages 8 to 14 skills like physics, computer science, and mechanical engineering. Additionally, 70 Slime kits, donated by Arlington Parks and Recreation, allowed families to partake in a fun and educational science project. Children created and played with a “slime” material similar to kinetic sand while learning about chemical reactions. Both the Mars Base Camp and Slime kits were well received and supplied young residents and their families with exciting and safe activities to enjoy at home.
In addition to connecting young residents with educational kits, APAH hosted a family-friendly poetry and storytelling event with speaker KaNikki Jakarta. Jakarta is an award-winning performance poet, author of three novels, and the first African American Poet Laureate of Alexandria, Virginia. This event allowed APAH residents to attend an engaging and powerful performance from the safety of their homes.
APAH continues to facilitate opportunities for children to stay active while adhering to social distancing guidelines. A virtual Girls on the Run program is currently underway. This youth development program allows girls in grades 3-8 to increase their physical activity while connecting with others their age, reducing negative physical and psychological effects of the pandemic that youth experience. At the end of the program a 5K is held to celebrate the girls’ achievements and participants can decide whether to run the 5K virtually or in-person. The Girls on the Run program empowers youth, encourages teamwork, and promotes healthy exercise in a safe way.
These initiatives have helped young residents stay connected and engaged during this difficult time. As soon as it is safe to do so, APAH will resume in-person programming to continue supporting the educational advancement of the young residents who call our properties home.