High Fives for The SPOT
– Giving Families Daily Meals and a Dose of Healthy Activities –
With the recent closing of schools and community spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at The SPOT – Wilson Youth United has been working around the clock to help nourish children and their families with a big focus on fueling bodies and minds. “We want kids and their parents to know we are here for them,” said Matt Edwards, executive director at The SPOT. “We are grateful for all the volunteers, donors and staff who are making this all possible.”
Once the team at The SPOT realized they wouldn’t be able to continue afterschool activities that are vital to so many children in Wilson, they paused to consider their options and the best ways to continue to serve families. Within just a few days of schools closing, The SPOT launched curbside pick-up of free meals on March 16 and served approximately 2500 meals per day in the second week. By the end of May, The SPOT will have served more than 100,000 meals for families since mid-March, and the plan is to continue as long as possible.
The mission of the SPOT includes three areas of focus for every day – academic enrichment, social immersion and health programs, and they wanted to make sure these would all continue. So in addition to quickly organizing a meal pick-up program, the team worked up a list of ways to continue the Hi5 program, which is funded by Healthcare Foundation of Wilson, to help families stay active.
“Hi5 is an innovative fitness program at The SPOT, which is designed specifically to get kids up and moving in new, interesting ways,” said Baylie Gagne, development director at The SPOT. “Thanks to this program, each grade level participates in a minimum of three new activities each week at The SPOT, and we decided our goal is to help motivate them do the same amount of activities during these challenging times.”
The Hi5 team at The SPOT is creating online tips, videos and printed handouts that go out with the meals at curbside pickup. They have added new levels of involvement over time to encourage participation. Youth and their families can stay active by tuning into The SPOT’s social media channels. They’ve posted and shared several activities and challenges such as shadow boxing demos, fitness word finds, an alphabet exercise game, and zoo yoga.
Families have even been spotted doing yoga moves in the car while waiting in line for meal pick-up, and the Hi5 team says The SPOT youth are challenging their siblings to get active at home. The SPOT also plans to share reminders and tips for hydration, healthy routines, and positive mental health.
“We are sending a big round of virtual high fives to The SPOT and community partners who are being so resourceful and finding new ways to continue to help the people of Wilson stay as healthy as possible during such difficult times,” said Denise O’Hara, executive director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. “It’s inspiring to see The SPOT’s proactive focus on continuing the Hi5 program to engage with families and encourage them to be active. We all know it’s extra important to continue and even build more healthy habits right now.”
The SPOT is also actively learning about the community’s needs through an online survey, and they have received feedback from families who are grateful for the service. “It is allowing parents to feed their families at a time when there is overwhelming uncertainty about job security, unemployment and steady resources,” said Gagne. “We plan to continue this as long as we can, and community donations are what’s making it all possible.”
Read more about the launch of curbside meal pick-up provided by The SPOT, which began on March 16 and has continued through May with no plans of stopping at the time this information was published. To learn more about accessing or helping with resources for the meals, visit The SPOT’s website.
Activity pages and links are posted on The SPOT’s Facebook page and website (Click the “FUN” button.) Below are a few direct links for videos posted by The SPOT to Facebook to help get families started with some fun activities.
The SPOT wants everyone to take advantage of the activities they’re sharing, and they invite people in the community to send short, fun videos that will help others get moving together. They would love to also collaborate with yoga or tai chi instructors, athletes, dancers, and others who want to join in the effort to keep families moving.
published May 2020