MILWAUKEE — The Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement (BLMA) at Milwaukee Public Schools is using virtual weekly check-ins to help lend important support to teens coping with the realities of the coronavirus pandemic.
BLMA has a mission of collaboratively creating the systems, structures, and spaces that guarantee success for all Black and Latino boys and young men in Milwaukee Public Schools.
- Coronavirus in Wisconsin: Live Updates From Across the State
- We're Open: These Restaurants Are Still Offering Carryout And Delivery
- FULL COVERAGE: Coronavirus News And Resources You Can Use
Typically, the group will have monthly in-person to connect peers and mentors and to check in. Now, they're using online platforms to meet weekly.
"For teenagers right now, being forced to stay inside and not communicate with people face-to-face has been a huge challenge," said Paul Moga, Coordinator of BLMA.
With the coronavirus disproportionately impacting Black and Latino communities, leaders inside the MPS BLMA department say it was important to try and continue connecting with students during the pandemic.
"Our kids probably have a lot on their minds and this is a safe place for them to get that out in a safe place with other men of color," said David Castillo, BLMA Planning Assistant.
Each week, guests join the meetings online as well. The guest include important leaders from local health departments, community organizers, and influential leaders.
"For now, these mentor chats once a week have just been a place for the young men to have their voices heard, for us to distribute information, and also to talk about the way that this situation have affected them," said Moga.
Students and their mentors discuss what can be done to protect the health of themselves and their families. The mentees also gain perspective from their trusted mentors, who say their role is increasingly important as the coronavirus becomes a major political topic, which can cause confusion for the teens.
"On Sunday, in lieu about what happened in Brookfield and Waukesha, I was in my feelings about that," said Castillo. "If that can have an impact on me, I know it can have an impact on our youth."