Anyone working in youth development will agree that it is best done in person. However, professionals in every sector of the economy have been forced to adapt to an unprecedented crisis, and Youth Development Professionals at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids are no exception.
Unable to continue operations as normal, we’ve been tasked with developing newer and more creative ways to reach our members from afar. For us, that has meant pivoting to virtual programming using platforms such as TikTok, Google Hangouts, and YouTube.
While youth development via a remote medium isn’t ideal, it’s important to remember the roles that our staff members play in the lives of our members. We are mentors, coaches, teachers, role models, and confidants. Our Youth Development Professionals form close bonds with our members and help them navigate the tough road to adulthood. By bringing our programming online, we’re ensuring that those critical relationships continue unimpeded.
But sustaining relationships between members and staff isn’t the only reason that bringing programming online is important for our members’ development. Ensuring that our members have access to our need-based programming content is also a compelling reason.
The development and growth of our community’s young people don’t cease to be important because circumstances are different. We’re adapting to continue to meet our members’ needs. The fitness, character building, and academic programs that we offer remain integral components to our members’ journey to adulthood. Using pre-recorded and live video programming, we will work to ensure our members have access to these crucial resources.
Our development and programming teams continue to work to design and promote effective virtual programs, so any changes that are made to improve the service we provide for families can be found on our website and Facebook page.
In this effort, we know we are not alone. Boys & Girls Clubs all over the state are also developing new knowledge in virtual programs, and we will be sure to work with them to share best practices and generate new ideas while also ensuring that our programs are tailored to our members’ needs.
Finally, when we get to the other side of this crisis, we are confident that many of the lessons we will have learned in remote programming will still apply. Our new virtual programming will be a dynamic addition to our existing programming in the club and will help us reinforce the lessons we work so hard to instill in our members every day.
As always, our ability to adapt to these unpredictable circumstances wouldn’t have been possible without the continued engagement of our community.
To learn more about our virtual programs, visit our Virtual Club page.
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