Ever since schools closed on March 17th, The Zone Project staff and partners have been adjusting and innovating to meet the needs of students and families. We've rolled up our sleeves and banded together in ways that collective impact has prepared us to do (even though we had no idea we were preparing for this!).
Here's what we're doing: 1. We are collaborating to meet the physical health of students and families. This was already a priority area for the Zone Project. We've doubled the size of our Food Access Action Team and through partnerships with area schools, businesses, Stand for Children and Communities in Schools (CIS), we have raised over $5,000 toward food and toiletries distributions and distributed thousands of pounds of food at area schools with the help of NW Harvest and Second Harvest mobile markets.
As a Zone Family Resource Coordinator, along with my pal Amy McColm (featured in the video above), we are working with Bemiss, Stevens, Logan, Shaw, Lidgerwood and Whitman Schools and also partner with CIS at Rogers HS to help families navigate multiple issues (accessing technology for their students, getting student meals delivered). We are now working with school staff, Second Harvest Bite to Go, the Spokane COVID 19 Food Security Taskforce and in partnership with Rep. Marcus Riccelli to create delivery models for folks that can't make it to food distributions, but need access to stay safe and healthy.
2. All of us are feeling anxiety and mental distress right now. Many families are experiencing this on a greater scale, with financial stress and being home, away from people they can go to for help. That's why our other top priority is helping families stay calm, access help and keep safe. I send a weekly email update to families with recommended ways to stay calm, local resources if you feel you need to talk with someone or take a break from your kids. You can sign up for my emails at the bottom of this blog page under "Subscribe" and we'll be posting a local resource guide soon to this site and social media.
3. Finally, we know that many kids in Northeast Spokane already experience a gap in academic achievement compared to other kids in Spokane County...and now the lack of classroom learning not only challenges many parents who have other responsibilities, but may create more barriers to kids who were already disadvantaged in our education system because of racial inequities, differences in ability, language/culture, lack of access to technology and/or enrichment activities.
The Zone Facebook page is buzzing with fun, low-tech ways to do learning activities with your children while school is closed. And The Zone Project is working with seven organizations funded for after school and summer learning programs in Northeast Spokane through Innovia Foundation to continue connecting with kids and supporting them through virtual learning, phone calls, dropping off school supplies, books, STEM kits, and even Girl Scout badge kits. Reading with your kids is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to help children develop language and critical thinking skills. Together, we'll get through this crisis. We appreciate all the partners who are sharing resources and working together to stay focused on our shared vision of thriving families, safe and nurtured children, and connected schools and neighborhoods.