Current COVID-19 Update (June 5, 2020)
Dear Cambridge OST Community,
Protests have erupted around our country in response to the egregious and unjust death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His last few words brought back memories of the words uttered by Eric Garner in 2014. Mr. Floyd’s death follows on the heels of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor which are just as egregious and unjust...all resulting from racial bias in our criminal justice system.
We are struggling to process these deaths that can in no way be justified. We hear Mr. Floyd’s last few words, “I cannot breathe.” And we cannot ignore what is happening in our country as these deaths are compounded by the heavy economic, social and healthcare impacts and tremendous loss of life in our communities as a result of the pandemic.
We mourn all of these losses.
Our young people of all races are questioning whether there is or can be justice for all, especially when your skin color is black or brown. Covid-19 and the racialized labeling of the virus’s origin brought about an increase in attacks on Asian people. Racism and racializing individuals, as we’ve seen increase over the last few years, only seeks to divide us. It perpetuates, hides, and seeks to justify the inequity and injustices within our society.
If we are ever to become the nation symbolized by the Statute of Liberty poem,
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
then each one of us must contribute to a much more just and equitable society. The reality is no one truly benefits from racism as it deprives this country of the incredible richness, talent and resources that reside within all our diverse communities.
We know these events will cause our young people, especially youth of color, to question what will be their future? Should they believe they will have an equitable opportunity to access resources that will lead to creating more wholesome lives? Underlying all of the work of the Agenda for Children (AFCOST) is supporting Cambridge’s OST community in identifying and eradicating inequity and lack of access rooted in racism and socio-economic disparity. We at AFCOST are committed to helping to create a positive future for all young people---especially those who come from marginalized communities.
Let’s continue to work, learn and breathe together during these tough times so we can collectively support each other, our community. and our young people.
Here is a link to a blog from Global Family Research Project featuring a recent article Family Engagement at the Intersection of Media and Educational Justice about our AFCOST Storytelling Project led by Ekow Edzie. We encourage you to read and revisit the videos and use the facilitators guide with your staff to support you work partnering with families during this time.
We look forward to seeing you at upcoming AFCOST convenings and meetings including: MSN, Trainings, COPs, and in Quality Coaching Sessions. Please know that we are here for you as we learn to navigate the best ways to stay connected. Your health, safety, and well-being are our greatest concern. We also know how important we are to each other. Even though, for the time being, we cannot be in the same physical spaces together, we’ll continue to be together in community, virtually.
We are continuing to support the OST Community to support children, youth, and their families from a distance. CPS has recently indicated that students will keep their devices over the summer and they have extended use of the district GoogleClassroom Platform to OST Providers and has created a process for approving content and YouTube channels created by OST Providers on devices issued to students. Please contact Khari Milner to learn more about how your program can access these resources.
We are working closely with our AFCOST Team Members, the STEAM Initiative, Inclusion and Find It Cambridge to offer resources to OST Staff, youth and families. Please post information about your Summer Programs on Find It Cambridge. Some program information for Middle School students is posted on our MSN Updates blog.
Until we can reconvene in person, we will offer all AFCOST Activities virtually via Zoom. Please check our events calendar for upcoming AFCOST sessions. Once your register, be on the lookout for an invitation from the facilitators with a link to these online sessions.
As you know, this is an emergent situation. We have put together an OST FAQ which we will continue to update on www.agendaforchildrenost.org.
Check out our 5 Key Elements for Successful Virtual OST Programming. If you missed the "How to Zoom Training on Virtual Facilitation", you can watch the video recording here.
AFCOST staff are accessible while our physical spaces are closed, so don't hesitate to reach out to us. We will continue to communicate via social media, and contact OST staff to facilitate participation in upcoming virtual AFCOST Activities. We are here to support you virtually.
With much love and respect,
Khari, Susan & the AFCOST TEAM