Inspiring Minds Youngstown finds new ways to help city students during pandemic

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Inspiring Minds Youngstown works with about 25 students who live in the city between seventh and 12th grades

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Inspiring Minds Youngstown is making adjustments to continue working with its students during Ohio’s stay-at-home order. 

“Inspiring Minds of Youngstown is definitely an organization that serves the youth in the city of Youngstown. Our mission is always to engage, empower and inspire youth to reach their full potential,” said Stephanie Gilchrist, executive director of Inspiring Minds Youngstown.

Inspiring Minds Youngstown works with about 25 students who live in the city between seventh and 12th grades. 

Tanisha Wheeler, program director at Inspiring Minds Youngstown, said they have five impact areas they focus on with the students.

“So, our five impact areas are education, exposure to new life experiences, health and wellness, college and career readiness, and personal development,” Wheeler said.

Typically, they meet with the students Monday through Thursday after school.

However, once COVID-19 hit, the organization had to be creative and find ways to work around the pandemic. 

Now, they are using technology to continue working with the kids daily. 

“We’re going completely virtual, like most people. So we launched to Google Classroom, where our students can go in, and we have Monday Motivation, we’re still able to do Project Lit, we are still able to do our workouts and we’re still able to give them assignments,” Wheeler said.

Gilchrist said it’s important to keep working with the kids so they don’t fall behind on things they’ve learned. 

She said since they moved to virtual activities, they realized how much the kids value the program.

“Now, when we go see them to drop off food for their families, we always end with them saying ‘I love you and I miss you,’ and that’s like so heartwarming,” she said.

Usually, there is a summer program for the kids to take part in. This year, they are working on a virtual plan but said it will move forward. 

They are still taking applications for any student who would like to join. 

“It’s very important to us that, if anything, we take this time to allow them to jump ahead, and so when we do come back and when they do go back to the classroom, or if it’s virtual learning, that they will be on point and on target,” Gilchrist said.

Anyone interested in applying for the program can do so on their website. 

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