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Richmond students create virtual program to engage elementary school children

Posted at 9:33 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 21:53:50-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- When Coronavirus closed down schools and stopped the world in its tracks, four honors students from Maggie Walker Governors School created an organization to help elementary school students adjust to their new normal.

Combining a love of learning and working with kids, students Justin Goldman, Ria Bakshi, Shreya Malani and Bella Grace Finck co-founded Project EngageRVA with the vision of bringing virtual enrichment courses to elementary students, while giving back to the community impacted by COVID-19.

“We provide a wide variety of classes. Right now we are starting with a youth yoga class, a math class, a trivia class and a book club. So, those are all courses that elementary students can join," Goldman said. "All the money we make off the classes will be donated to the Central VA Covid-19 response fund."

Registration is currently open on their website.

Each class will be conducted via Zoom and has a nominal fee. The co-founders of Project EngageRVA don’t want cost to hinder any child, so they said that they will work with parents who need help.

“I think each one of us have had experience tutoring kids. I’ve tutored a lot of kids from nearby middle schools and high schools. I tutor my cousins in the summer, and we really enjoy teaching them,” Shreya explained.

“It is a good idea to sign your child up with a friend. While it is an educational initiative, it is also a way to keep younger kids connected in more of a structural way, rather than them just being on Facetime with each other. They will be sparking conversations and working together,” Ria said.

The students say they’re most excited about sharing their passion for learning with young people, while helping parents keep their kids connected in a constructive and fun way.

The Maggie Walker students say they are already getting a positive response from fellow students. Many of them have also offered to serve as instructors for Project EngageRVA.

“We do have lesson plans put together for each class. We are trying to be organized about each class,” Shreya explained.

“If we do find out that it turns out to be a big success and a lot of children signing up, we are definitely going to recruit some of our friends. They are willing to help out and that gives us an opportunity to have more classes and class times,” Justin added.

The one hour Project EngageRVA courses are $7 each and begin next week.

The book club is a one hour class including 8 sessions and costs $30.

Again, all of the money these students raise through this enrichment program will be donated to help families and workers impacted by COVID-19. You can also go to to make a donation.

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