Like everyone, youth and staff at TJJD have had to deal with certain limitations during the coronavirus outbreak.
And while that has created challenges, it has also produced discoveries as youth try new things.
At Gainesville State School, the young men are taking advantage of the spring weather and outdoor spaces to fly kites, exercise with hula hoops and coax coaches into impromptu football practices.
They’re fixing bikes and working outdoors in the horticulture garden, which remains accessible while the school building is closed.
Even so, some days demand extra creativity.
When a group of boys recently seemed at loose ends to fill their recreation time, Community Relations Coordinator Robin Motley remembered the parachute she had stashed away for just such moments.
She and the boys’ case manager Kyle Hellinger and Youth Coaches Desire Bostice and Colnesha Tucker got the game going. Soon, the youth were all smiles.
It was also a teaching moment, or more to the point, a self-teaching moment. The young men, who’d been struggling the hour before, found themselves working as a team and overcoming their lassitude.
“They pretended the parachute was their environment and the balls (bouncing in the parachute) were their emotions,” Motley said. “So, in effect, they were learning to communicate how they felt.”
This was just one of the many new activities staff have been trying out as they replace gaps in schedules caused by restrictions related to the pandemic, which have curtailed outside visitors and temporarily suspended outside community service work.
Coaches, volunteer and recreation staffs have been sharing ideas across TJJD to broaden engagement opportunities and keep activities fresh.
“It has been challenging at times,” Motley said, “but the kids have been adapting quite well.”
Photos: Robin Motley