One of the aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic that is not talked about enough is how children and adolescents have had to adapt to confinement, preventive measures and limited physical contact.
“I have noticed that children learn much better when they have classmates by their side,” says Carmen Cáceres, who directs the Puentes de Aprendizaje program (Learning Bridges) from Casita María, a South Bronx community organization that is part of our Hispanic Federation.
Puentes de Aprendizaje is a program of the New York City Department of Education that helps children and their families with hybrid learning — face-to-face and distance — that was implemented due to the pandemic.
“At Casita María”, Carmen Cáceres details, “we created a safe space where children can study, do their homework and socialize on the days they have remote classes”.
At Casita María, students have equipment for their studies and work, and they receive help with homework from their “group leaders”, in addition to performing artistic and intellectual and cultural enrichment activities.
“Many families in the South Bronx do not have the resources to buy computers or pay for the Internet,” explains Carmen Cáceres. “The Department of Education has given many students tablets with Internet connection, but at Casita María we also provide our computers, as well as school supplies. Of course, all the standards of the Education and Health departments are met here ”.
The educator agrees that the pandemic and its consequences on the relationships of children and adolescents have a profound impact on their social and emotional development.
“I check every day how important contact is between children, even if it is only facial gestures, or body expressions,” he adds. “One day, only one girl from her group came to the program, and when she saw herself alone she began to cry. He was so sad that he had to go home. I wanted to be with other children, but there were no other children. That experience gave me a better understanding of what it means for children to be with others who are like them ”.
Carmen Cáceres speaks with decided optimism about the future, when things return to normal and we can return to life as we knew it.
“We are going to put all our energy so that these guys can recapture all that they have lost. But for the moment, the most important thing is that they are well and that they are healthy ”.
For more information about Casita María, visit www.casitamaria.org.
“And those interested in the Learning Bridges or Learning Bridges program, can call me at (718) 589-2230 extension 6204”, concludes Carmen Cáceres.
For more information about the Hispanic Federation, visit www.hispanicfederation.org or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Put on your masks and maintain six feet (or two meters) of social distance to fight the coronavirus!
Let’s celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Hispanic Federation together, and see you next column!
-Frankie Miranda is the president of the Hispanic Federation