Hope For Kids – Looking Forward During the Pandemic

Hope for Kids – A Virtual Christmas

The 12th of November rang in the first ever group meeting for the Hope for Kids service group for the 2020-21 academic year. While it was carried out under rather unusual circumstances considering that we were met on Zoom, it covered a very detailed itinerary of what we had to plan and carry out for the remainder of the semester.

This year, marks my second consecutive year as a member of this service and I am beyond excited to see what this year has in store for us. Moreover, I plan on it being a long time project of mine since I got rather invested in it since my debut in Hope for Kids last year!! (LO4)

In terms of what we do as the Hope For Kids service group, we spend most Thursday afternoons, (under non-pandemic circumstances) at the CCC Cancer House in Maharagama, engaging with the younger cancer patients and their parents at the home with hopes of brightening up their week in whichever way we see fit. Our time there is well spent and we find ourselves engaging in activities ranging from creating sock puppets, to buying the kids new toys and resources and taking part in things as simple as playing catch – all of which is rewarded by eager smiling faces which makes everything all the more, worth it. (LO6)

Unfortunately for us, this session, we learned that we would not be allowed to visit the home in person for the remainder of the year, which is understandable seeing as the children have weaker immune systems than we do and it would be too much of a risk to come into direct contact with them at this stage after being exposed to a pandemic environment. (LO7)

Luckily, we were able to come to a happy conclusion, that this wouldn’t be stopping us from continuing to do what we intend to do for our friends at the CCC home.

To help us out in terms of organization, we first created a planner with a list of actions we CAN take despite the restrictions of the pandemic. The ideas ranged from creating a social media page to raise awareness, to conducting food drives and fundraisers and our foremost endeavor which was to take on a small craft session in groups in order to help bring about the festive spirit at the home.

Traditionally, we would have met with the kids in person, taken our art supplies and helped them create Christmas related ornaments and crafts of their choice, but this year, we have decided to bring them our rendition of a virtual Christmas celebration! We came up with the idea of creating ornaments and other Christmas decorations, recording tutorial videos in the process which we could then upload to a Google Drive for them to access and follow from the safety of the home. I also supplied the idea that we could try and use Zoom calls to engage with them on a more personal level in case they needed more assistance which the the videos themselves can’t provide. (LO3)

This led to another excited discussion about what we could to to make this pandemic Christmas as spirited as we could despite our circumstances and we decided we could go virtual caroling as well! As a final course of action, we planned on buying them gifts; same as every year, and having it sanitized and delivered to the home along with some other rations and our art supplies which they can use on our Thursday sessions.

After splitting up into groups, I decided to work with Anya and Ashvini on paper decorations. Initially, we planned on physically making them and cutting them out i.e. making literal decorations but we realized that it would be difficult for the kids to re-create without any assistance. Plus, the creation process was rather complex and it required a lot of materials we didn’t have, so taking that and their age groups into consideration, I offered an idea which was to source different designs from the internet i.e. printable cutouts of stars, circle ornaments, candy canes, angels etc. for them to print directly and color. This way, there would be reduced chances of contamination, we had a larger variety of designs and the parents could get involved and help cutout the designs and the children could draw and color on them. (LO5)

This activity is rather simple but also very considerate understanding that many of the children are often very fatigued by chemotherapy and are unable to complete high energy requiring activities. (LO7)

Ideally, by next week we should have roughly 6 designs sourced (each) and our next steps will be to make the video tutorial which Anya will record and Ashvini and I will add voiceovers to in order to reduce the language barrier since most kids can only speak Sinhala.


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