Kids University offers free virtual services for CPP students despite decrease in staff

Despite a significant decrease in staff, ASI’s Kids University is continuing its program in a new virtual format for the fall semester to support those with dependent children and those responsible to care for their young relatives or siblings. The childcare services are being offered for free to all Cal Poly Pomona students.

Before the pandemic, Kids U employed approximately 32 staff members. This semester, there are only four staff members joining the virtual program, according to Youth and Safety Programs Coordinator Marissa Engel.

The club capacity has also changed with only 18 campers allowed per weekly club session, Engel said. For tutoring sessions, only four campers are allowed to participate in private tutoring at a time and eight campers in group tutoring. However, this doesn’t take away from the overall mission to connect campers together even in a virtual format.

“We have been specifically developing our activity club lessons to help the campers have time to socialize with others their age to help build the interpersonal connections that they are missing in this time of social distancing,” Engel said.

Nonetheless, the program’s decrease in capacity aims to create a more intimate environment for participating children.

Kloe Hernandez’s younger sister is one of the many who benefit from what this program has to offer, including being in a smaller group. Hernandez said her sister has trouble expressing herself in a group larger than 20, and that this change of pace in a virtual format has improved her sister’s confidence.

“I remember coming home from work on the first day she started Kids U and asking her how it went,” Hernandez said. “She had the biggest smile on her face and asked me if I could make sure she was signed up for the next week as well.”

As a full-time retail manager, Hernandez was looking for something to entertain her sister with while she was home alone and heard about this program through a friend who attends CPP. Initially, she doubted how childcare could be virtual and was hesitant to sign up. After talking with other participants, she decided to give it a try and was glad to see her sister enjoy it.

Campers that sign up for Kids U, like Hernandez’s sister, are divided into four groups depending on their ages and meet three days a week for one hour on Zoom.

Club Junior, specified for campers in the age group of 5 to 7-years-old; Club Betweeners, for campers ages 8 to 9-years-old and Club Doubles, for 10 to 12-years-old, all focus on team-building, exercise and interpersonal skills.

Club Leaders in Training, otherwise known as Club LIT, is intended for children ages 12 to 15-year-old to build leadership skills. The five-week program is being offered at $75 for non-CPP students. For Club Junior, Betweeners and Doubles, they are offered at $15 a week for non-CPP students.

The program also includes group and one-on-one tutoring sessions for those in kindergarten to sixth grade, meeting twice a week.

Kids U was originally a summer camp where children participated in rock climbing and swimming. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these activities are canceled for summer 2021.

Other activities that have taken its place in Kids U include camper-led activities and created games. Club LIT participates directly in leadership programs where they can work with the younger campers on activities such as choosing a category for scavenger hunts or Simon Says.

ASI Interim Director of Organizational Development and Assessment Ginny Templeton said these activities were made through the “challenge by choice” model.

“Campers are encouraged through these activities to step out of their comfort zone to learn and grow,” Templeton said. “We took a multi-faceted approach with afterschool club activities, private and group tutoring and a leader-in-training program.”

Templeton said the program has seen a small increase in participation from CPP students compared to the previous years. She hopes to see more students utilizing the free service. The virtual program is planning to operate in the upcoming spring semester as well.

The program is accessible through ASI’s Recreation Portal, and registration closes every Monday prior to the start of the session at 11:50 p.m.

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