WMU Students Get Creative to Help Local Kids in a Big Way
Let me start by saying I do not have any children. Although, I have been living vicariously through my friends who do have children as they navigate the brand new world of virtual learning. The main thing I've learned is that all my mom friends need all the wine but, I've also learned that there a lot of things that never even crossed my mind. Like privacy.
When I read that students from Western Michigan University had created privacy screens and then donated them to local students learning from home I made the assumption that it was about helping students focus. Which is somewhat true but, mostly its to protect children who may not be comfortable showing their backgrounds to their fellow students and teachers.
The project comes from the WMU organization Future Teachers of Color and Marcy Peake, director of diversity and community outreach initiatives in WMU’s College of Education and Human Development. She recently spoke with Mlive.com to discuss this project saying,
For students who have backgrounds with safe, mainstream things happening, it’s not a problem. But a lot of kids who are in pre-K through 12 don’t necessarily have the luxury. Maybe they live at the (Gospel Mission) and they don’t want people to know that based on the background. They may have families fighting in the background. They may just want privacy, period.
According to Mlive.com, students aren't required to have cameras on at all times. However, I can imagine that it makes engaging with the students and making sure the students are understanding the material very difficult for teachers if they can't actually see them. These privacy screens will, hopefully, make the students feel more comfortable leaving the camera on.
In total, 60 decorated privacy screens were donated to local students through Friends of KPS Supply Closet which is a parent run charity. You can read more about their work here.
Personally, I grew up in a home where we were constantly struggling as far as money was concerned. I remember, vividly, the panic I had when a friend wanted to come over. I was afraid they would look down on me, would judge me and I would be embarrassed. Struggling with money or your home life is not something that should be shameful. But, sometimes, societally, it does feel that way. Especially for children who have little to no control over it.
Even though I don't have children, I can appreciate how necessary something like a privacy screen can be and I applaud these college students for recognizing that need and stepping up to try to help.