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Boys and Girls Clubs combat COVID learning loss

The pandemic hurt kids academically
Posted at 7:07 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 19:07:51-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Big Bend are helping families rebound from the pandemic.

As more people get their COVID-19 vaccines, the clubs are getting back to how thing were before the pandemic. Now, club leaders are facing a new challenge.

“I think of the Boys and Girls club as a big family,” said 17-year-old Nina Fisher. She’s been coming to Boys and Girls Clubs of the Big Bend for 10 years now. “I was able to find out more about who I am.”

We first introduced you to Nina and her mom last September when clubs had to limit how many kids could attend to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Kacy Dennis led the charge to keep kids safe.

“We’ve been able to make a lot of changes since we last spoke,” Dennis explained.

Though they don’t have to limit capacity inside anymore, they still have kids wear masks and maintain social distancing while they’re inside the gym.

“Right now, we are really focused on academic success,” Dennis added. He said virtual learning and all the academic disruptions brought on by the pandemic have taken a toll in our community. “We call it the COVID learning loss.”

Most of the kids they serve live at or below the poverty level. As many as 85 percent of the kids they serve receiving free or reduced school lunches.

“A lot of our kids at the beginning of the pandemic did not have computers,” Dennis explained. “A lot of our kids, that style of learning is not beneficial for them.”

This summer, they’re hiring certified teachers to get kids back on track at four sites in Leon County and three in Gadsden. “We’re still here, and we’re still creating great futures,” Dennis said.

Nina’s mom, Dionne Roberts, knows firsthand how beneficial the clubs can be. “She did have her issues with her school, and the club has taken her under their wing,” Roberts shared.

“They have different programs here that kind of help me out with my school work,” Nina added. Through the clubs’ support, she’s working toward career goals. She hopes to go into real estate and run her own business one day.

The clubs are open to kids age six to 18 and offer a number of ways to get involved this summer.