Big Brothers Big Sisters makes shift to virtual activities amid virus
BRATTLEBORO — If your family uses a nerf basketball hoop to play H.O.R.S.E. in the basement or holds a pie-eating contest in the dining room, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont would like to see it.
The program's BIG Night In event, which will go throughout the month of May, is all about staying home and having fun.
"We would have held our 39th Bowl for Kids' Sake on April 25, but we had to cancel it because of the virus," said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont Director Kimberley Diemond.
In its place, families are asked to share pictures or videos of their at-home activities for a chance to win a gift certificate from a local business.
"Our program specializes in one-to-one interaction, but when schools closed our school matches were shut down and our in-person meetings for community matches have also been shut down," noted Diemond, adding that the Brattleboro office currently serves 45 children.
She explained that school matches are for ages 6-11, with reading, playing board games, and playing on the playground being common things for those pairs to do together. Hiking, arts and crafts, and fishing are some of the popular activities for the community matches.
COVID-19 concerns have the Bigs and Littles social distancing now, meaning sending texts and care packages are the latest trends. One child even received an Easter basket in the mail.
"Before the BBBS had to suspend in-person visits, we loved cooking together, going on walks, sledding and skating at Living Memorial Park, and eating at The Works," said Dummerston School Principal Julianne Eagan, who was matched with Academy School student Ariannah Carter last summer. "Since those activities are not possible right now, we are able to connect online through platforms like Zoom."
The duo has been playing a dice game called Farkel virtually during the pandemic, while Carter has also played songs on her clarinet for her Big and was able to meet Eagan's new puppy through video. The two have even eaten lunch together online.
"We're promoting online-based activities now," Diemond stated. "They can have Netflix watch parties, become pen pals, and do virtual tours for instance."
The BIG Night In is one of the program's coolest event, urging families to share their movie nights and creative home games. Check it out at bbbsvt.org.
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