Over the last several months, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed life around the globe. Social distancing, while crucial to slow the virus, has had a large impact on the national and state economies. With the cancellation of school and closure of non-essential businesses across Connecticut, NOW has similarly been forced to cancel events and programs. NOW is focused on the health and safety of the community and encourages our friends, followers and partners to maintain safe social distancing practices.
In February and early March of 2020, NOW was in preparation for a busy spring season. There were plans to rollout an updated and streamlined scholarship process and NOW staff were actively preparing to schedule fitness & nutrition outreach with the many teams and leagues in the region. NOW had run two successful clinics – baseball on February 9th and track & field on March 1st, with several more clinics planned for the spring months. March 4th saw a Family Healthy Cooking event held in conjunction with the culinary arts program at Ellis Technical High School, with plans for another event in the early summer months. One of NOW’s top fundraising events, the 9th Annual A Taste for NOW, was scheduled for April 19th, with dozens of local restaurants slated to participate.
By mid-March, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont canceled all public-school activities and passed executive orders to limit social interaction. Soon thereafter the Whitehouse issued “Stay Home, Stay Safe” guidelines, and all plans for spring programs, outreach, and fundraising were halted.
CURRENT PROGRAMS & ACTIVITIES
NOW has been closely following the recommendations from state and CDC officials. Staff have been working from home and in regular communication with partner recreational sports organizations, sharing status updates regarding the spring season. Currently all Connecticut Junior Soccer Association-affiliated organizations have canceled the spring soccer season. NOW is waiting for the latest updates from Little League International and our local lacrosse partners to see what further postponements and cancellations are to be expected.
With so much of NOW’s work in the community focused on group activities, sports outreach, and clinics, NOW has shifted focus to sharing information about local resources for mental health support, school lunch availability, and local food and blood drives on our social media. NOW is also focused on promoting Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training, which teaches adults how to recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. During normal times, NOW’s authorized facilitators hold in-person training sessions for groups of up to 20 people, with NOW covering training costs. Currently, NOW is promoting online training, which is free through the “Flip the Switch” campaign. As well, Darkness to Light has a new and timely free training, called “Protecting Children During a Crisis.” Statistics show that more than 80% of sexual abuse cases occur in isolated, one-on-one situations and many families are finding themselves in situations where regular child-protective behaviors are not being observed. The training helps parents:
- Determine potential changes that could disrupt existing daily life or pose new challenges in prevention.
- Identify which prevention strategies will likely change or could be heightened based on an existing or potential crisis in your own life.
- Develop personalized strategies to use when potential crisis situations become a reality.
NOW has shared this training opportunity on social media, with board members, partner organizations, and with past Darkness to Light training participants.
NOW is also using this time to get a head-start on some major work on our website. NOW Executive Director Sarah Wolfburg is working with a local marketing firm to refresh and update www.nowinmotion.org, with plans to launch the new website in the late summer.
To spread some cheer while social distancing continues, NOW is reviving our “Flock-a-Friend” campaign. This giving initiative allows community members to donate to NOW, and in exchange, NOW will send our “flock” of 48 lawn flamingos to make special appearances at the homes of loved ones around the Northeast CT community. The hope is to raise funds for NOW programs and to bring smiles to some faces during this time of separation.
NOW remains hopeful that programs can resume during the summer of 2020. With the current lack of group activities and interactions for children, and the delay and cancellation of youth sports, it will be more important than ever for NOW to bring wellness outreach to the children in our community. NOW hopes to resume our clinic schedule, with plans for clinics focused on swimming, volleyball, field hockey, football, and basketball. We also look forward to working with partner organizations to bring outreach to teams during the fall season. Our authorized Darkness to Light facilitators are also eager to bring Stewards of Children education to coaches, educators, parents, and youth mentors – with plans for in-person, group training sessions around the region. Finally, NOW is hopeful that our signature events: our 9th Annual NOW Road Race & Walk will move forward as planned for Sunday, September 13th and our 9th Annual A Taste for NOW will take place on its rescheduled date of October 4th.