Planning for Horizons Summer Program 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic

Daniela Meltzer with Hidai Olivas-Holguin ’17

When I longingly look back to late February of this year, I think about the wonderful Horizons National Conference that I attended in Bridgeport, Conn. It was jam-packed with inspiring speakers, illuminating workshops, new friendships, and a strong sense of solidarity amongst my Executive Director colleagues from around the country. I was incredibly proud that Hidai Olivas-Holguin ‘17 was chosen to speak on the alumni panel about her Horizons experiences. She did a fantastic job, and many people left inspired after hearing her personal success story.

While there were rumblings regarding the spread of coronavirus, none of us really thought it would be a huge issue. There were some people that were quietly raising alarm bells, but they were few and far between. Most of us were worried about the ‘normal’ things—fundraising, staffing, curriculum development, etc.

After the conference, I took a few days to decompress and see friends and family in Manhattan. I went to delicious restaurants, took leisurely walks, spent time in Central Park—truly enjoyed the amazing energy of New York City, the company of my friends and family, and the joy of being on my own for a few days. There were signs that coronavirus was starting to scare people but yet, we laughed and said, “There is no way they are going to shut down New York City, absolutely not!”

Fast forward to present

Now, we are in a state of lockdown across the world, New York is at the epicenter of the pandemic, and we have mobilized to figure out what our Horizons families need right now in order to ease the burden as much as possible. And, of course, with Summer around the corner, we are trying to figure out what this Summer will look like for our Colorado Academy Horizons program. So far, this is what we can say for sure:

  • Our Horizons students and families, some of whom are the hardest hit in our Denver community, need Horizons this Summer more than ever.
  • We will definitely provide programming that seeks to engage students and let them know that we care about them and their well-being, and we are here for them.
  • We will rise to the challenge of creating interactive programming that centers around the whole child, especially focusing on the social emotional needs of our students and the trauma this pandemic has caused for our young people.

Just as I have done with my own family during this period of quarantine and physical distancing, we will practice “Moments of Happiness” with our Horizons students this summer. We will work on highlighting hope, examine what good things have happened as a result of this crisis, and look towards a brighter future.

To that end, my moments of happiness currently are being able to collaborate with my fellow Horizons-affiliate Executive Directors on a weekly basis, letting our families know that we are there for them, starting new initiatives like a CA student tutoring project for our Horizons students in need of academic support, and much more.

Like my grandfather always used to say to me, “This too shall pass.”