Community comes together to provide activities and support for youth

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Sparked by a need to support children displaced by the economic fallout of COVID-19, a collaborated forum is coordinating resources to support local agencies and community members.

“West Virginia has the highest rate of out-of-home placement for children in the country. So, we have almost 7,000 kids in care,” said Marianna Linz, a Marshall University professor.

Linz said the group, including herself, the City Mission, Harmony House and other community members, knew these kids and others would not only lose the support provided by the school system, but they would also become confined and in need of resources.

“We knew that they (kids) were going to be in confined spaces and might be in need of some stimulating activities, some bonding activities to do,” she said. “So we wanted to create a space where people interested in helping could come and get involved and offer ideas.”

So far, the group has created three activity boxes to give to kids at the City Mission or those served by other agencies, one of which was superhero themed allowing children to better understand COVID-19 while promoting literacy and math skills, Linz said.

“We gave them each three-foot dowel rods and we said, ‘When your magic wand touches another magic wand, that’s six feet, and that’s how we defeat corona,’” she said. “Younger kids in particular, when we say six feet, they don’t know how much that is. So, they get to decorate their superhero wand and understand how much that is.”

Also included in the boxes were donated capes and masks and a prompt to write a story about their superpowers to promote literacy, she said. Though those effected by the pandemic expands past children, and Linz said the community group wanted to work to provide for others as well.

“We have also done some food donations to different agencies, meals for Harmony House,” she said. “One of my graduate students is reaching out to senior centers and nursing homes to see if they could use some activities for senior citizens, particularly those that may be suffering from dementia that may be really struggling to understand what’s going on.”

Linz said she was overjoyed by the community support she has seen and the combined efforts to keep the community going.

“I don’t like to call it social distancing, it’s physical distancing,” she said. “In this time where we are trying to maintain this physical distance, it seemed like it really awakened peoples spirits to want to connect with their neighbor.”

Those looking for more information about the group can find it at the Huntington Community Corona Virus Care Plan Facebook page.

Ralph May can be contacted at [email protected].