The unofficial beginning of summer has arrived. With some of the season’s traditional activities canceled due to the coronavirus, keeping children entertained at home is especially important these days. Our latest “Above and Beyond” feature offers some creative options from two of Regions Bank’s community partners. It also spotlights an associate doing her part to help ensure girls in Fort Smith, Arkansas, are receiving nourishment and encouragement.
Indianapolis, Indiana: The 500 Festival Brings a New Way to May!
It’s the largest, one-day sporting event in the world, drawing more than 300,000 spectators annually. But Memorial Day weekend 2020 didn’t feature the deafening roar of 33 racecars zooming around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway like other years. Organizers postponed the 2020 Indy 500 to August 23 as a precaution amid COVID-19.
But, thanks to an Indy nonprofit and Regions community partner, race fans of all ages can still virtually experience the thrill of this landmark event and its many traditions until the time when we can all gather again.
The 500 Festival is providing a distance learning option with its “A New Way to May” online activities. People can take a video tour around the famous 2.5-mile racecourse, design a custom race flag or parade float, and listen to a story read by one of the 500 Festival Princesses.
Regions is sharing its Scholastic Adventures in Math curriculum on the website. The bank is also presenting prize packages to student winners of the 500 Festival’s essay contest, as well as offering Regions’ trademark LifeGreen custom cruiser bicycles and helmets to their teachers. You can read the winning essays here.
Regions has partnered with the 500 Festival for over 20 years, serving as an Education Program sponsor since 2015.
The 500 Festival’s Mobile Study Trip program annually brings the history of this special venue to nearly 30,000 fourth-grade students. Bank associates have volunteered their time with the project for over a decade.
Scott Thiems, retired Regions Indiana Business Banking Executive, past 500 Festival Board Chairman and current 500 Festival Foundation Board Chairman, notes the importance of the history of this unique community partnership:
“I am so pleased that Regions is continuing its longstanding support of the 500 Festival,” said Thiems. “They’ve found an innovative way to create virtual experiences for existing race fans while introducing new fans to its many traditions during these unusual times.”
Learning may be occurring a bit differently than usual these days, but this community partnership proves it can still happen at an accelerated pace!
Fort Smith, Arkansas: Girls Inc. Shares the Power of Giving, Receiving
With its mission to encourage girls to be “Strong, Smart and Bold,” Girls Inc. offers academic achievement, life skills and healthy living programs at 1,200 locations across 350 cities. One of those communities is Fort Smith, Arkansas, where Girls Inc. has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for girls since 1934.
While onsite programming and sports activities are postponed, creating a sense of connection is still a priority for Girls Inc. and its volunteers. Megan Nichols, Regions Commercial Relationship Manager and Girls Inc. of Fort Smith Board Treasurer, notes the challenges – and opportunities – the pandemic has presented.
“It’s been incredibly difficult to temporarily close the facility and suspend our programming,” said Nichols. “Most of the girls we serve are from low- or moderate-income families, so we had a great concern that food insecurity would be an issue for some of our girls.”
To help address that need, Nichols and fellow Girls Inc. of Fort Smith supporters are delivering snacks directly to the girls’ doorsteps.
“The girls loved seeing familiar faces!” said Nichols. And the girls are paying that kindness forward, creating thank you cards sent to local health care workers.
The girls are so inquisitive, and they truly want to learn and grow.
Megan Nichols, Regions Bank
Nichols misses spending quality time with Girls Inc. of Fort Smith members, but she believes this time can still provide valuable lessons.
“While the pandemic has forced us to social distance, the only way to get through this is to work together,” said Nichols. “What a powerful thing to show the girls that we face challenges head-on. I hope this lesson of resiliency is one they carry with them into adulthood.”
What lessons does Nichols believe the girls can teach us?
“The girls are so inquisitive, and they truly want to learn and grow,” she said. “As an adult, that’s a quality I admire. I never want to stop learning.”
Raleigh, North Carolina: Marbles Kids Museum Hosts Daily Dose of Play
Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been sparking the imaginations of thousands of children through its interactive exhibits for nearly 13 years. The museum is dedicated to a spirit of “play-losophy” in its activities.
The Regions team in Raleigh has been a proud sponsor of Marbles’ annual “Teach a Child to Save Day” for the past four years.
Cindy Forrester, Commercial Administrative Assistant, enjoys visiting Marbles with her grandchildren, as well as when she and her Raleigh teammates connect with students during this annual day devoted to financial education.
“We always have a good time when we go to Marbles,” said Forrester. “During Teach a Child to Save Day, we show students how to make a wallet by using a roll of duct tape and a piece of cardboard. The children are amazed by their creations and appreciative they have something they can take home and use.”
Marbles is encouraging creativity to continue at home while its doors are temporarily closed, posting a variety of online activities and sharing their Daily Dose of Play videos. From singing campfire songs to creating your own journal to whipping up pancakes in a bag, Marbles team members have it all covered!
It’s proof there’s always a way to play and learn, no matter where we are.