Organizing activities during a pandemic is challenging due to health and safety concerns related to gathering. This has led to a temporary suspension of regular commerce and activities within the community. Although no individual is spared from the impact of COVID-19, children can bear significant consequences due to their vulnerable developmental processes and dependence on adults to meet basic needs.
The Annam Center has always hosted child-centered events to promote social and cognitive growth. This was no exception for the summer of 2021, which saw the development and implementation of Promoting Restorative Occupations to Support Positive Emotions (PROSPER) – a new youth-based program with unique adaptations to maintain health and safety. To minimize risk, the program divided children into small groups with access to personalized resources for crafting, playing, and socializing. Children were joined by their family members who were invited to occupy a separate area to gather and observe. The program spanned six weeks, with each week focusing on a group reading of a book that was selected for its multicultural themes and lessons that encouraged individual and interpersonal growth.
Summer Fridays were also organized by volunteer teachers from a local elementary school. The goal was to facilitate entertaining reading sessions in both English and Spanish, catering to the primary school-aged children of Hispanic backgrounds.
A summer camp program, sponsored by Dr. Alicia Bordon and Dr. Juan Carlos Barriga, provided resources for children to experience the joy of learning, growing, and exploring together.
Outdoor areas were prepared for children to visit. This included open enclosures that house peacocks, ducks, chickens, and pigs. The Annam Center also hosted programs for children and their families to learn how to grow their own flora and vegetation; while this endeavor provides nutritional and aesthetic value, it also promotes a sense of responsibility, respect for nature, and botanical knowledge.
Acknowledging the unique natures and needs of children means that special efforts should be made to ensure that children are not deprived of opportunities for enrichment – even in the midst of a pandemic. A total of nearly 300 children participated in the free activities hosted throughout the summer.