Students get in-person help with virtual learning through non-profit programs

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Local organizations are working together to help students get through their virtual school work this year and they say it goes beyond helping them with their homework.

With more parents having to return to work during the pandemic, some of Fort Wayne’s non-profits are stepping up to keep students on track with all of their work. South Side student Tymia Bradley said adjusting to her fully-virtual school year has been a learning curve.

“I do everything online and that’s different because I’m usually a hands-on type of person of learning,” said Bradley.

Bradley believes that seeking out help with her school work at Youth for Christ’s City Life Center each week has been a major benefit to her as she moved to eLearning this year. The organization, along with the United Way and the Northeast Indiana YMCA, are encouraging families who are struggling to adjust to eLearning to seek out similar programs in their area.

“Becoming the teacher doesn’t necessarily fall on their shoulders,” said YMCA District Exec. Director Amos Norman. “They have individuals that will actually help them get where they need to be.”

The YMCA has opened up space at several branches for students and teachers in need of space to work. Both the YMCA and City Life also bring in Fort Wayne Community Schools tutors or volunteers to help students work through challenging assignments.

“It’s good to have somebody right there every step of the way and to get that assignment or that project done,” said Bradley. “Not just have to wait for an email back or a response back or be able to Zoom.”

City Life had started the program before the pandemic with about 90 percent of their students being from South Side and Wayne High Schools. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for students who are making up credits they need to graduate while Wednesdays are open to more students. Director of the City Life Center, Reggie Blackmon, said they will receive help with their homework but that City Life likes to take a holistic approach when aiding students.

“We’re adding to staff in the area of education so we’re able to meet those needs, so we have a professional who can come in an know and is able to understand the language of what’s necessary to meet those needs,” said Blackmon. “We have breakfast available, we have lunch available, and if they stay for programming even a meal at the end of the day so their needs are being met in more than just the way of education.”

Youth for Christ Regional Director Nygel Simms said this is especially important given the impact the pandemic is having on students’ mental health.

“So many teens right now are feeling isolated and lonely,” said Simms. “Stats show that 66 percent teens right now feel like they have no one that they can turn to, even including their parents. So, here at City Life we want to create a space where they can be vulnerable and heard and seen and once we know that they are seen and heard, hopefully that’ll increase their changes to lean into their education.

Right now, the City Life Center is looking for more volunteers to help students with their work so that they can expand the program. They are also calling on more people in the community to make an effort to support students as they work through this.

“They need the village, our community to help them get over those hurdles and City Life, the Boys and Girls Club, Renaissance Point YMCA, we’re trying to help,” said Simms. “Our kids are in a crisis right now and they need us. The word ‘crisis’ just means a turning point. They need somewhere to turn so we have to be available for them to turn towards us.”

You can find volunteer information for City Life over on their website.

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