When Washington State declared the Stay Home Stay Healthy order due to an unprecedented global pandemic, Julianne Gale, Youth Program Supervisor in the TANF Department at the Skokomish Indian Tribe, realized children were going to be at home for quite an extended period of time. “Usually, we have an in-person after school program and a summer recreation program and employment program. Effective after school programs have been shown to have a wide variety of benefits to youth, families and communities.” Concerned for youth prolonged isolation at home, she adds “Tribal Youth programs in general give youth the opportunity to use their time productively to connect with their culture and community; to find support in avoiding negative behaviors, and to practice managing their problems successfully. The current absence of our in-person programming is a big loss for the youth and community. This At-Home version of the program will hopefully provide some of the same benefits that our After School Program or Summer Recreation Program would have provided, while protecting the community at the same time.”
Families connected to the Skokomish Indian Tribe throughout the Skokomish TANF service area in Mason County were encouraged to participate in a survey. Names, ages, grades, addresses, and interests were collected to find the best project fit for each child. Each week, youth were delivered an activity package with all supplies and instructions included. Activities range from art supplies to educational materials to cultural kits, including items like science kits, colored pencils, journals, gardening supplies, paint, rattle-making kits, and more. Approximately once a month, they receive an extra big box of supplies and activities that can be used all month long.
Youth and Families are encouraged to share their completed projects in the Skokomish Youth Facebook group or via text message to a youth worker to help maintain a sense of community despite social distancing measures. Youth that choose to use their supplies creatively could have their art/educational projects featured in the next letter to all the youth in their age group!
In May 2020, they began delivering these packages to 111 youth in 56 households. As of July 2020, the program has grown to serve 137 youth ages 5-19 in 61 families every week. Julianne has had great response and virtual interaction with youth. Here are some project shares from the Youth Program At Home. This Youth Program At Home will be going on until September 30, 2020. This project would not be successful if not for the countless families, Tribal members, and SPIPA Staff working together during these challenging times. A big shout out to Skokomish Youth Program Staff: Fawnette Gouley, Willie Grover, Allen Carrington, and Corbett Gamber for assembling the boxes and handling the deliveries. Those interested in more information are encouraged to contact Julianne Gale at [email protected] or 360.490.6475