When WQED debuted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1954 as the nation’s first community-supported broadcast station, it served as an experiment in educational television. Today, the multimedia powerhouse is helping local children in need learn and explore despite the distance learning environments required due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
As part of an emerging needs relief grant, the PPG Foundation teamed up with the “Stay Home with WQED” initiative. Through the grant, WQED is on its way to distributing 3,500 “Explore More” Education and Activity backpacks filled with learning resources to Pittsburgh-area students.
Connecting virtual learning with toolkit backpacks
The toolkits intend to connect children and families with a wealth of educational resources linked to the WQED Education website, social media and TV programming to foster learning and encourage healthy and fun activities at home. Among the virtual programs are livestreams of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) experiments and demonstrations.
In the spirt of Fred Rogers, an iconic champion for children, WQED employees and volunteers came together at the Fred Rogers studio to pack the backpacks. According to Gina Masciola, WQED manager of education projects, the volunteers were on a mission to ensure students have the supplies they need to complete their educational instruction amid the disruption in their classrooms and traditional schooling.
“WQED has been all about education since the beginning,” said Masciola. “This is one way for us to do something really concrete that can help right now in our community. Support from the PPG Foundation has helped us to go out and make a difference for these students.”
Sharing supplies and smiles
The backpacks include supplies such as notebooks, craft supplies and hand sanitizer, along with a guide for parents to assist their children in accessing and connecting the backpack supplies with WQED’s online and television education resources.
The backpacks have not only helped the kids “Explore More,” but also spread cheer through the region. One local school principal shared that it brought her great joy to see the smiles on the faces of the students who received the bags.