[UPDATED] Creating distance learning in the middle of a pandemic is one thing. Actually making it happen for struggling students caught up in the day-to-day, with the challenges of being at home and perhaps sharing technology with family members — is quite another.
Christy Zamani, executive director of Pasadena’s Day One, a community-based public health education nonprofit organization, saw the challenges faced by in the young students she interacted with every day. She dreamt of a safe place for students, outdoors, out of the house, with everything they need and no distraction, so that they can work and study.
Tuesday saw the launch of that dream with the opening of the Day One Study Zone. Essentially, its desks and chair set up safely distanced on the lawn of the Day One campus. The desks even come with a portable fan, and a planted succulent, to provide some color and nature to their new learning spot.
There, local students will find WiFi, school supplies, healthy snacks, and drinks to get them through a school day. They simply reserve a spot on the online link, and they can work in shady comfort with fellow students and mentors.
Vannia de la Cuba, who serves as Councilmember Victor Gordo’s field rep, said the pandemic brought to the forefront the many challenges our more vulnerable families face, including WiFi at home, a quiet place to study.
“This project provides our students a powerful tool they can use to improve their educational outcomes during this difficult time. My hope, and what we will work on, will be to learn from this first study zone and then create them in other parts of our city. This project showcases the best of our community – how we come together to work a problem and find solutions that strengthens our community.”
The first day saw nearly a dozen high school and college students parked on the lawn on a warm, sunny morning, underneath canopies, with coffee and supplies close at hand.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to study at home,” said student Jackie Moreno, enjoying her lunch at her desk on the lawn. “The WiFi is always going out, and because I’m at home, sometimes my mom doesn’t realize that I am at school, and so she is talking to me, or asking me to do chores, and that makes it hard. That’s why I really like this.”
“With the challenges of distance learning, our youth need comprehensive support more than ever,” said Zamani, explaining that the organization has been developing the project since the school year began in mid-August.
“We anticipated that there would be a need and thankfully, we have been able to bring together the partners and funds necessary to offer this important resource to the community,” she said.
Both the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the Verizon Foundation stepped up immediately, providing $15,000 in combined support as well as actual technology hardware, such as the much sought-after WiFi Hot Spots.
“Access to a safe learning environment with internet technology and homework support is always important, but today more than ever,” said Tournament of Roses Association President Dr. Bob Miller at the Study Zone launch event. “The social and emotional support is also critical. That’s why this Study Zone is so important. It will give local students a safe place to go for comprehensive support.”
“We applaud Day One for being an innovative and solutions-oriented community-based organization,” said Verizon’s Vice President of Government Affairs, Jesús Román, also at the event. “They recognized a need, developed a pioneering plan and it is our pleasure to invest in it with our friends at the Tournament of Roses.”
Miller also acknowledged the Rose Parade 2021 theme, of “Dream. Believe. Achieve, ” which he noted will now become the 2022 theme, saying, “The theme is a celebration of education. And that’s what we are doing today. Together let us celebrate dreams fulfilled, goals achieved, and millions of lives forever changed.”
DayOne is at 175 North Euclid Ave. Pasadena, CA. More information on the Day One Study Zones is available at https://www.godayone.org/.