COMMUNITY PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY DRIVING DECISION MAKING
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windsor Essex is taking precautionary measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to continue to be a positive partner in the overall health and safety of our community. The following is meant to assist our volunteers and community partners understand the measures we are adopting to support the regional containment strategy for COVID-19 as well as the community as a whole.
We continue to encourage the growth and nurturing of the amazing relationships that have been established between our Bigs and Littles. As a result, we are developing strategies and tools to help support our Bigs and Littles that will facilitate continuing with the mentorship relationship at the discretion of the child’s parent/guardian and the comfort level of the Big. The following guidelines must be followed until further notice:
In order to protect the and safety of the children and youth we serve, our staff, volunteers and community partners as well as the general public our offices are now closed. Our work will continue, in fact we recognize that our mentorship services though delivered differently remain as a critical as ever. Our staff therefore will continue to work full time from home in order to continue to serve the needs of the children and youth. All school based programs are suspended until May 1st.
Starting Monday, all school-based and group programs are suspended for a minimum of three weeks.
Community-based matches are prohibited from seeing one another in person but we strongly encourage the continued contact virtually through phone calls and all online and virtual platforms. Supporting our kids continues to be our complete focus and as an agency board and staff are “leaning in” to support and reassure them that we are here for them especially now in these disruptive and isolating times
Thank you for your understanding and patience during this uncertain time. For the most up to date information about COVID-19 please visit:
Some specific advice to share with our Mentors, Mentees and Guardians:
Bigs and Parent/Guardians are asked to be extra vigilant about washing hands, utilizing hand sanitizer and encouraging the Little to do the same stressing the importance of mandatory hand washing for the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday, 20 seconds.
- Please note that Social Distancing does not have to necessitate the cessation of mentorship. Here are some tips to support one another virtually:
- Virtual Calls – Utilize technology to be able to connect with each other (Skype, FaceTime, etc) to check in with each other as well as to discuss the current events. There may be feelings of nervousness and uncertainty of what to believe, so share feelings, as well as spending time researching reputable sources of information such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Website. Here is a link to an article from the Child Mind Institute helping to explain how to talk to children about the Coronavirus for tips: https://childmind.org/article/talking-to-kids-about-the-coronavirus/
- Play an Online Game – A quick google search will pull up ideas around playing games online or on your phone against each other. A few ideas for your phone include: Words Chums, QuizUp, or Real Basketball. Chances are your Little is already playing multi-player games! Ask them which is their favorite and see if they are interested in letting you play as well.
- Book Club – Reading is something that can be done together or alone. Talk to your Little to find a book they are interested in that is available for both of you either at the Library or at your local bookstore. Plan the schedule of reading and either get together or call each other to discuss. You can find resources online to help supplement your discussion time. Google and Pinterest are your friends! Search out Book Club Discussion Questions.
- Movie or TV Club – Along the same lines of a book club, pick a movie or TV show to watch at home separately, and then jump online or on a call to chat about it. Depending on your technology you could virtually watch it together or text each other while watching it at the same time. Make sure you press play at the same time or else get ready for spoilers! It won’t be as fun as sharing popcorn together but the discussion time and connection is the main goal here!
- Create Playlists – Make a list of your top 5 favorite songs and share them with each other. Determine the best way to listen to the list such as YouTube or Spotify and then spend the time listening and really thinking about the songs to be able to share thoughts with each other. Come up with a list of topics to discuss on a call or virtually (again Google and Pinterest for the win!) such as similarities, genre differences, what strikes you as unexpected on the list, etc.Create Something for Each Other – Discuss ideas around what you could create for each other. It could be anything! Playdough sculptures, drawings, songs, poems, etc!! Pick what you are going to create, decide on a timeline, and then schedule a time to virtually share what you have created! Think “show and tell” to discuss what it is, how you created it, and then spend time praising each other’s amazing or not so amazing work.
- Journal – Take this time to discuss the importance of Journaling with each other. Start a journal to be able to either share with each other weekly, or at the end of this time. Remember: A journal does not have to be a fancy notebook! It can be jot notes on scraps of paper. Decide what the shared purpose is going to be. Is it a journal where daily thoughts are simply documented? Is there a theme like “Top 3 Things from My Week”? Keep each other accountable with reminders and encouraging messages to ensure it is a shared experience.
- Stay in Touch! – The amount of in person contact may be less due to the spread of the virus. In light of this how can you help ensure your Little knows you are thinking of them? Discuss how you can continue to contact each other either through phone calls or thru messages online. Ensure each other’s boundaries are still being respected so have a discussion around the best manner in which to contact, the frequency of acceptable contacts, timing, etc. Can you schedule in a time during the week to Skype or call just as you would an outing? Along with discussions with your Little, don’t forget to contact agency staff and the parent/guardian as well to confirm your plan. Communication is key during this time!
- Don’t Stop Making Plans – This will not last forever! It is important to stay positive during this time and future focused. Don’t forget to continue making plans and goals for next month, the summer, next winter, etc. Use this time to enhance the communication between all of the members of the match and dive deep into some goal planning.
Please inform your BBBS Service Delivery Staff as soon as possible if you have decided not to continue with match activities for an extended period of time and they will advise you of any necessary next steps.
We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding as we attempt to manage this difficult situation. We have deep gratitude for your commitment to supporting our Agency and the children and youth we serve.