Special program of distance learning targets families affected by digital divide
A series of half-hour courses will premiere today, for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, which are designed to help them receive distance learning instruction because they are lacking internet or computer access.
The program, dubbed “BeEnriched,” is an effort that uses Buffalo school teachers conducting learning via a broadcast television outlet. The programs will be airing each weekdays morning from Aug. 17 through Oct. 2. Four half-hour courses will be broadcast each day on WNYO-TV Channel 49 (Spectrum Cable 8; Verizon Cable 508), a Sinclair Broadcasting station.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered schools in Buffalo since mid-March.
Courses will be STEM-centered, but will also include reading, the arts, and music.
The program is the collaboration of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo/Healthy Communities 2030 in cooperation with the Buffalo Public Schools administration and teachers.
Phil Haberstro is chairman of the Wellness Institute and Lucy Connery is the executive director.
The stated: "We are excited to see this important effort move forward – this demonstrates our community's dedication to our youth's well-being, and will be one of many steps to support our neighbors as we all respond to this pandemic.”
In addition to the televised classes, there will be a series of “field trips” that will run within the programming. These will include pre-taped segments shot at the Buffalo Museum of Science, The Buffalo Zoo, Darwin Martin House, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, The Albright-Knox Art Gallery-Northland Complex and the African American Heritage Corridor.
Funding for the program was obtained from Harmac Medical Products Co., The Community Action Organization of Western New York, and KeyBank in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation.
“We are honored to help families in the Buffalo area gain access to special classes this summer,” Harmac President and CEO John Somers said. “We have close to 400 employees at our Buffalo headquarters, many of whom reside in parts of the city where internet access is an issue. It is important to us that this learning enrichment program become a reality so that all of those children can learn remotely before in-person classes resume.”
Harmac Medical Products is an award-winning, international contract manufacturer of single-use medical devices, located on Bailey Avenue on Buffalo’s East Side.
L. Nathan Hare, CEO of Community Action Organization of Western New York, said this partnership will help engage school-aged children, and teachers and parents while schools are closed this summer.
“It is our hope that these classes will bring our kids some bridging of the gap in their education that the COVID-19 pandemic has created,” he said.
Production of BeEnriched is taking place at the Performing & Visual Arts Academy television studio at 450 Masten Ave. All of the classes will be available on www.BeEnrichedBuffalo.org.