March 18, 2020 – COVID-19 UPDATE
With Guidance from our National Office, we are recommending that all 1:1 matches suspend all in person meetings until May 1, 2020. Additionally, groups will be suspended until May 1, 2020 as well.
See below for some great ideas to keep your relationship strong while we help flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19. Also, be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram for updates, activity ideas, and other news!
Virtual Calls– Utilize technology to be able to connect with each other (Skype, FaceTime, etc) to check in with each other as well as to discuss the current events. There may be feelings of nervousness and uncertainty of what to believe, so share feelings, as well as spending time researching reputable sources of information such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Website. Here is a link to an article from the Child Mind Institute helping to explain how to talk to children about the Coronavirus for tips: https://childmind.org/article/talking-to-kids-about-the-coronavirus/
Staying Away from Crowds– Social distancing is a terms used to explain actions taken to help slow the spread of disease. Many match activities can be done either in the Bigs home or the Littles home such as baking cookies, learning a new recipe, watching a movie, building a puzzle, learning a new card game, board games, etc. Avoid areas with large crowds like movie theatres, restaurants, and museums. Consult with your agency staff around policies around spending time in either the Big or Little’s homes. Communicate with each other prior to spending time together to help ensure healthy visits. Remind each other about best hygiene practices while together.
Play an Online Game– A quick google search will pull up ideas around playing games online or on your phone against each other. A few ideas for your phone include: Words Chums, QuizUp, or Real Basketball. Chances are your Little is already playing multi-player games! Ask them which is their favorite and see if they are interested in letting you play as well.
Book Club– Reading is something that can be done together or alone. Talk to your Little to find a book they are interested in that is available for both of you either at the Library or at your local bookstore. Plan the schedule of reading and either get together or call each other to discuss. You can find resources online to help supplement your discussion time. Google and Pinterest are your friends! Search out Book Club Discussion Questions.
Movie or TV Club– Along the same lines of a book club, pick a movie or TV show to watch at home separately, and then jump online or on a call to chat about it. Depending on your technology you could virtually watch it together or text each other while watching it at the same time. Make sure you press play at the same time or else get ready for spoilers! It won’t be as fun as sharing popcorn together but the discussion time and connection is the main goal here!
Create Playlists– Make a list of your top 5 favorite songs and share them with each other. Determine the best way to listen to the list such as YouTube or Spotify and then spend the time listening and really thinking about the songs to be able to share thoughts with each other. Come up with a list of topics to discuss on a call or virtually (again Google and Pinterest for the win!) such as similarities, genre differences, what strikes you as unexpected on the list, etc.
Create Something for Each Other– Discuss ideas around what you could create for each other. It could be anything! Playdough sculptures, drawings, songs, poems, etc!! Pick what you are going to create, decide on a timeline, and then schedule a time to virtually share what you have created! Think “show and tell” to discuss what it is, how you created it, and then spend time praising each other’s amazing or not so amazing work.
Journal– Take this time to discuss the importance of Journaling with each other. Start a journal to be able to either share with each other weekly, or at the end of this time. Remember: A journal does not have to be a fancy notebook! It can be jot notes on scraps of paper. Decide what the shared purpose is going to be. Is it a journal where daily thoughts are simply documented? Is there a theme like “Top 3 Things from My Week”? Keep each other accountable with reminders and encouraging messages to ensure it is a shared experience.
Stay in Touch!– The amount of in person contact may be less due to the spread of the virus. In light of this how can you help ensure your Little knows you are thinking of them? Discuss how you can continue to contact each other either through phone calls or thru messages online. Ensure each other’s boundaries are still being respected so have a discussion around the best manner in which to contact, the frequency of acceptable contacts, timing, etc. Can you schedule in a time during the week to Skype or call just as you would an outing? Along with discussions with your Little, don’t forget to contact agency staff and the parent/guardian as well to confirm your plan. Communication is key during this time!
Don’t Stop Making Plans– This will not last forever! It is important to stay positive during this time and future focused. Don’t forget to continue making plans and goals for next month, the summer, next winter, etc. Use this time to enhance the communication between all of the members of the match and dive deep into some goal planning.
As always, the safety of the BBBS community is our first priority. Please feel free to get in touch with Kaitlyn Bruyns or your direct caseworker if you have any questions or concerns or require additional information.
March 16, 2020 – COVID-19 UPDATE
In consideration of public health concerns over COVID-19 and community efforts to mitigate its spread, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oxford County has suspended all in-person meetings and closed its offices to the public until further notice.
BBBS Oxford will continue match support via phone and email and ensure administrative tasks are completed to meet our families’ and matches needs. While there has been no confirmed cases in Oxford County, we believe implementing these temporary measures is in the best interest of our families and our community as a whole.
We will update our website and all social media with any changes or updates to services and upcoming fundraisers as decisions are made.
We appreciate your understanding during this time and look forward to resuming our face-to-face relationships when it is safe to do so. Together we hope we can greatly reduce any impact of COVID-19 in our service area. We are #biggertogether!
GROUP PROGRAMS SUSPENDED DUE TO COVID-19
WOODSTOCK, Friday, March 13, 2020 – As you are aware, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is rapidly evolving. Although there are no confirmed cases in Oxford County and the level of risk remains low in our community, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oxford County is taking proactive actions to prevent the spread of viruses.
At this time, all group programs will be postponed for a minimum of three weeks. Due to the public school closures, all in-school and literacy mentoring programs will also be on hold until further notice. Our community one-to-one matches will continue as normal, however, we recommend the following precautions when planning an outing:
- Remain in your community
- Avoid group activities and/or crowded places
- If either the mentor or mentee is sick or recently traveled out of the country, postpone meeting for 14 days.
“The safety and well-being of the young people and mentors we work with are always our first priority. We are closely monitoring our staff teams and have suggested they stay home if they are experiencing any symptoms similar to a cold or flu,” says Kristen Ralph, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oxford County.
At this time, all fundraising events will continue as scheduled. All BBBS staff members and volunteers are following the Public Health Agency of Canada’s recommended practices of proper handwashing and have increased cleaning efforts at our offices. We continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates to our families regarding any changes.
ABOUT BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS
The new mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to enable life-changing mentoring relationships to ignite the power and potential of young people. The call to action is for more people, more volunteers, and more donors to join the mentoring movement and create that spark. Volunteers and donations are needed to professionally support mentor-mentee matches across the country. For more information, visit www.oxford.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca
Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oxford County