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Boys and Girls Clubs help youth cope during pandemic

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DULUTH, MN-- As the pandemic continues the Boys and Girls Club of the Northland branches is aiming to bring a sense of normalcy to kids in need.

"They're struggling so much academically, trying to keep up trying to stay connected with the school," said Tammy Sundbom, Resource Development Director. "So, we're trying our very best to provide those resources."

The five Northland branches located in Duluth, Superior, Grand Rapids, and Coleraine have all changed hours of operations so kids have a place to go during school hours.

"It's not their traditional homework worksheets that they had before. It's online, it's getting to zoom calls, it's learning independently," said Duluth Goldberg Branch Director, Emily Burnside. "So, we focus a good chunk of our day on academic support."

Since the fall of 2019, the clubs have heavily focused on supporting youth mental health and providing services.
Club officials said the pandemic has increased those needs and efforts.

"Right now, we have two social work interns from the College of St. Scholastica and we're working with the Hills Youth and Family Services," said Sundbom. "They have a therapist who's coming on-site to coordinate those services with our youth."

Club leaders believe having the clubs open has helped kids and teens cope with the pandemic and the changes that have come with it.

Burnside added, "It's a normal thing for the kids, they can come here and have some structure and normalcy in their life."

Several meals and snacks are also being provided for those who would normally get food support from their school.

Due to capacity limits, some club programs have been moved to a virtual setting and have provided technical support to those who may need assistance.

For anyone interested in donating to a local Boys and Girls Club click here.

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Emma Quinn

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