Connected clubhouse

From left, top: program coordinator Josh Beiderman, executive director Laura Rariden, and Sophie and Grace Bilyeu; middle: Ava Foote, Jaylee Tripp and John Kieper; lower: Kiannah Bailey, Khloe and Kaylin Seeley, and Erik Branam. LAURA RARIDEN/PHOTO

CRESWELL — Show and Tell, Creative Writing, Lego Club, a Talent Show, “Think Big” Philosophy, Science, Drawing/Cartooning and Dance/Performance are among the virtual activities kids are engaging in during this extended period of school closures and social distancing.

Creswell Clubhouse’s “Community Helpers Club” has provided plenty of activities for members.

Laura Rariden is the executive director of the community helpers’ leadership and service-learning program. Students in the CHC make decisions for the larger Clubhouse program, such as planning field trips, parties, and choosing and scheduling upcoming clubs. 

It was in that capacity that the group comprised Clubhouse’s first virtual meeting, where they established rules for online clubs and planned virtual activities.

The rules – mute yourself unless you are speaking, no talking over others and raise your hand if you wish to speak – are the same as in-person meetings.

“I can always count on them to help smooth out rough spots by enlisting their support in helping manage the climate and culture of Clubhouse,” Rariden said. She added that “Children and staff were delighted to see each other” during that meeting and agreed to continue practicing self-control, turn-taking, active listening and mutual respect during virtual meetings.

“I joked with them about being the meeting ‘administrator’ and having the ability to mute the whole group if I wanted, but I wouldn’t be able to do that in person,” Rariden said.

Clubhouse has held two clubs per week since virtual activities were selected, with plans to continue throughout their prolonged closure.

“We really want children to feel connected to their friends, our staff and Clubhouse, knowing we will always be there for each other – even if we have to do it virtually,” Rariden said.

About 10 children have been participating in the activities.

“A couple of children asked to do Gym Games” as an activity, Rariden noted, “and I felt terrible we could not run around together and play big group games – a favorite for many of our children at Clubhouse.”

The pet show-and-tell naturally included cats and dogs, but also a bunny and a black chicken named Midnight.

“Everyone shared about their pet’s age, what they eat, tricks and why they are special,” Rariden said. “It was super cool to see how much we all love our fur pets and how much our fur pets mean to us.”

Clubhouse has also begun hosting a children’s philosophy curriculum called “Think Big,” which encourages kids to wrestle thoughtfully with ethical questions, and to think about these issues in a whole new way.

“There are no right or wrong answers, just interesting ideas,” Rariden said. “It essentially asks questions about life that don’t have a single, absolute answer and we do our best to figure them out.”

For example, Tuesday’s “Think Big” club discussed lying, exploring questions such as: Is lying inherently wrong? Why or why not, and where do we draw that line? How can lying hurt others? What if lying causes less pain than the truth? What if lying helps you stay safe – for example, if you’re home alone and a stranger knocks on the door and asks if your parents are home?

The Community Helpers Club also plans and completes projects to help others, although that is on hold until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

“In the past, we have sold homemade dog treats to raise money for Greenhill, held a car wash to raise money to donate to the library expansion project, and raised money to give out a $600 college scholarship to a Creswell High School graduate who attended Clubhouse as a child,” Rariden said.

Planning projects to help their community, carrying those projects through and seeing positive results makes the Community Helpers Club fun and rewarding for kids and community alike.

“I am continually amazed by how incredibly caring, compassionate and hardworking the children are,” Rariden said.



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