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National PAL

National Association of Police Athletic/Activities Leagues, Inc.

News Detail

7

Apr, 2020

Santa Barbara PAL: Virtual Mentoring


Coronavirus Pandemic has caused the world to alter our everyday lives. In-person activities such as doctors’ appointments, work, and school are now virtual activities. Due to social distancing and quarantine provisions, many mentoring programs that served as a safe haven for youth have been forced to close their doors for group gatherings leaving youth to their own devices. Where does this leave our youth who depend on PAL programs? 


Santa Barbara Police Activities League has found a way to bring mentoring to youth. Program Director Judith Lugo, staff, and leadership council have located essential virtual resources and methods to keep their youth connected and in good spirits during the quarantine.  


We talked to Lugo and asked her to share tips on how she is able to continue to serve her youth during this time.


1) Direct youth and parents to helpful third party resources.
a.
Free Internet Access. SBPAL utilized free and/or affordable resources to ensure youth are able to log-on and connect to mentoring activities from local providers. They have also directed Santa Barbara families to news outlets covering more positive content. 

“Every day at 6 pm the Santa Barbara Resource Network goes on Facebook live in English and in Spanish to expose them to more accurate news coverage that focuses on more positive news coverage. We try to remind them it's not the best to watch the news every day” says Lugo. 


b. Google Hangouts and Google Classroom. Within either Google platform, your PAL’s adult leadership can keep youth academics on track outside of the traditional school environment while monitoring interactions between mentors and mentees. Within the software, leadership can grade papers, host discussion forums, and conduct tutoring sessions. 

2)  Meet a unique need.

Take inventory of services and initiatives already occurring in your neighborhood to address needs that may not be considered. For example, SBPAL noticed there were plenty of food resources available in their community, therefore they took a different approach to help their youth by offering virtual tutoring.


3) Craft your virtual curriculum.

After you’ve decided to offer virtual mentoring, it's time to decide what topics to highlight. If your PAL currently offers an easily modifiable curriculum, make it available online. If you require a curriculum, ask your nearest school district to direct you to an affordable or free curriculum. Your PAL can also offer leadership courses and activities on decision making and stress management.


5) Assign youth a leadership role.

Oftentimes we learn our youth can teach us a thing or two. If you are unfamiliar with certain software or applications (including Instagram, Facebook, google hangouts/classroom) ask a youth leader to help you! Also, depending on the topic, allow your teen leadership council to develop mentoring sessions. Once you review the program, walk them through ways to implement it.


6) Send small gifts of love.

Try to do simple acts of thoughtfulness to let your kids know their mentors miss them. For example, SBPAL sends their youth and families “thinking of you” postcards to remind them, they can always depend on their PAL. 


7) Incentivize your youth.

Some youth may not be elated to attend virtual school and online tutoring. Give them a reason to stay engaged with positive reinforcements. To combat youths’ academic disinterest, SBPAL has started interactive learning contests including an “SAT word of the day” competition where youth use the SAT word of the day to enter into a care package giveaway. 


8) Announce your need.

Now is the time to get the word out on your PAL’s needs, specifically on social media platforms. Because most people are social distancing or in self-quarantine, there are more people on social media than ever! Communicate your need for supplies, financial donations, and other resources utilizing your online presence or trusted partners.


Contact

National PAL

301 McCullough Drive, Suite 400
Charlotte, North Carolina 28262

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