Wake Up! Has gone virtual!

Everyday we are developing new ways to deliver our programs! Here’s a great story of how we have transitioned our WakeUp! Program to a virtual format!

On April 4th, 2020 the Wake Up! Program had its first virtual Saturday class due to COVID-19.  The Wake Up! Program is a drug and alcohol educational diversion course for young people ages 10-22. The in-person Wake Up! program is held on the first Saturday of each month; the class consists of educational presentations on substances, guest speakers from the community, a hospital tour through the emergency room at Banner University Medical Center, 10 hours of community service, and a 500-word reflective essay.  In moving the program to a virtual platform, Wake Up! facilitator Danielle Riguerra put her efforts to ensure the components of the program were similar being moved online.

Bright and early at 8:30 am, participants joined the live Zoom class to begin introductions, review online etiquette, and discuss the agenda for the day. In addition to the live Zoom class, Danielle invited each participant to the Wake Up! Google Classroom. The classroom was created to allow the youth to participate in the group modules, complete user forms, engage in group activities, and complete subject quizzes. These platforms were chosen because they are free for the users to access, and only require a “gmail” account and Wifi access to join. As many schools in Pima County have transitioned their online learning to these platforms, the youth and families were familiar with the layout and format.

Once introductions concluded, the 10 participants had some time to go through the self-paced modules in Google Classroom. Each of the two guest speakers, as well as Danielle’s PowerPoint presentations were carefully timed out on the agenda so that all the participants would know when to reopen Zoom to be present for the remainder of the program. The collaborative Zoom class ended at 2:30 pm, and the remaining assignments were assigned with a deadline for the youth to be considered “attended”.  As the program had to revise the hospital tours, an alternative project and a list of at-home community service ideas were distributed to the participants.

Some challenges Danielle faced was having all attendees who registered for the in-person program be a part of the online class. This was in part due to participants not checking their emails or forgetting about the program day of and therefore missing it. Some participants had trouble with internet access, interrupting presentations and documents on Google Classroom not loading correctly. Lastly, setting up the google classroom was a new challenge since Danielle had never used it before. To troubleshoot, Danielle uploaded the forms multiple times and had fellow AZYP facilitators test it out before the first class. This experience allowed Danielle to learn how AZYP can adapt their programs to a virtual platform and create new learning experiences for future participants who will complete the program virtually.

Overall, moving the program virtually was a success, with only slight modifications to the program as a result. Parents were relieved the program would not be cancelled and their youth would be able to attend the program despite the everyday changes and challenges. Since moving the program online, there has been an increase in new probation officers reaching out to see if we are still offering services, as potentially other options are postponed. Post COVID-19, Danielle will be able to continue using the virtual version of the program with youth who may not have access to transportation to make it to our physical class.