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Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui Virtual Clubhouse Time: Keeping Lahaina keiki connected

By BY CINDY SCHUMACHER - | Jun 4, 2020

TJ Daya, Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui Lahaina director, is successfully continuing the Lahaina Clubhouse program virtually.

LAHAINA – As Maui County faces uncertain times, Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui (BGCM) is still doing whatever it takes to serve youth, families and the island community by opening all the clubs for Virtual Clubhouse Time weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m.

BGCM’s award-winning programs have been well-known for the last 20 years. The new live, interactive virtual sessions adapt these programs into an online format using Zoom’s virtual meeting software.

“We are reaffirming our commitment to island families by opening our Virtual Clubhouse Time to all of Maui’s school-aged keiki, not just our active membership,” said BGCM Director of Operations Stephen Bennett. “Our goal is to reconnect Maui, so any child from anywhere in Maui County, including Molokai and Lanai, can join any clubhouse they wish. We have waived the five dollar annual membership fee until 2021, so there are fewer barriers to learning and participating in fun and engaging activities with their peers.”

Lahaina Club Director TJ Daya said, “During these times, the BGCM-Lahaina Club has been working diligently to support our youth by providing a safe and enriching place to go online. Zoom has been a great outlet for our members and a lot of fun. Our team has used this time to grow professionally by attending daily trainings, creating robust programs and strengthening our facilitation skills. We have learned a lot over the past few months and will use it to benefit our members, families and community by providing the optimal club experience.”

Zoom allows BGCM to facilitate important academic lessons, healthy lifestyles and many more activities with the children who are mostly at home now. It is important for members to connect with their BGCM mentors and to see the staff in person.

Utilizing the Zoom platform, the BGCM team is providing their members a full calendar of virtual activities, including Power Hour, Project Learn, Smart Moves, Fitness-at-Home, Nutrition-at-Home, Hawaiian Marine Science and Ecosystems, Electronic Smoking Device/Anti-Vaping Education, Bridge2Math mathematics support, Keystone and Torch Club programming and more.

The Zoom program gives BGCM the capacity to host up to 300 members at a time and provide safety measures, enabling their staff to have control over audio and video connections. Therefore, the staff can guarantee that appropriate behavior is exhibited and acceptable content is shared.

“We knew we had to close down for some time, so we moved quickly to make a plan to serve our youth and their families,” said Daya. “Families have to keep their children at home, and they need us now more than ever to keep them engaged in meaningful activities that support their academic skills as well as their social well-being. So, we worked diligently to explore ways we could provide key virtual online services.”

“Also, our program provides members great interaction with their peers, being able to see and interact with them safely,” Daya noted.

“Physical and emotional safety is really important to us at the clubhouse, and we can protect that safety in the virtual world as well. Zoom provides the means to do this, allowing only authorized visitors to join the virtual sessions. Also, it has the capacity to serve a larger number of people. As we opened Virtual Clubhouses, we wanted to make sure we had the capacity to serve the need in the community.”

While the Coronavirus pandemic has affected normal BGCM operations, they are doing an outstanding virtual program. The Lahaina staff is guiding Keystone Club members as they learn how to mentor younger Torch Club members through character and leadership building activities, such as emotional wellness projects and collaborative art projects thanking essential workers.

Teen leaders have been leading meetings and helping to plan the Maui Teen Expo. Each week, the staff covers different topics, including nutrition, hydration, sleep and emotional wellness followed by brainteasers and fun jeopardy games where members compete against the team.

Every day, Virtual Clubhouse Time is themed around a country to teach members interesting facts about all the different countries. Staff incorporate details throughout the day’s activities, teaching about the country’s culture to support continued learning while having fun.

“Thus far, we have learned about China, Australia, Japan, Brazil, France, Zimbabwe, Italy and Canada,” said Daya. “In the Pencil Warriors Art program, staff include a step-by-step art lesson to teach members how to draw pictures of animals, landscapes and other items (usually from the country theme for the day). One person will draw and another will make up a story of what is going on in the storytelling about the country they are learning throughout the day.”

Additionally, they play many interactive and engaging virtual games to keep members active and energized throughout the four hours of Virtual Clubhouse Time. Many games like Rock, Paper, Scissors include a physical challenge. The winning member continues on and losers have to do pushups, jumping jacks or some other kind of exercise. Scavenger hunts are a member favorite. BGCM staff post a list of items for members to find in their homes, and they have five minutes to come back and share what they find.

“The BGCM has had a lot of success getting families virtually involved in our program as well,” said Daya. “We want to get as many people as possible to benefit from this program. A good, safe online platform with academic support is able to help keep the youth prepared and ready for school to reopen. Our variety of programs supports the whole family and will keep them active until things get back to normal after the closure.”

“This is our way to support the community by providing our services during the pandemic. The programs are here, and they are fun activities. If the kids have idle time, send them to the virtual clubhouse. They will have fun and they will learn something. We are so happy to be doing our share and to give back. Our role now is to let our kids know there is a lot of hope out there. Thank you to all of our community partners, supporters and donors; thank you! We will get through it all. Stay safe and healthy,” Daya concluded.

For more information, contact BGCM at (808) 242-4363.