Pooja Senthil, creator of Front-line Tots, top centre, discussing space and the importance of the sun. SUPPLIED

Non-profit initiative aimed at relief for front-line workers during pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Pooja Senthil, a young university student in Life Sciences at McMaster University, noticed that despite lockdown, many people still had to work every day as front-line workers, often without support from daycare services or school.

With a background in babysitting and tutoring, Senthil saw an opportunity to combine her two passions with a love of teaching. She then created a non-profit initiative called Front-line Tots. The program is designed to give relief for front-line workers by providing online educational programs and activities to kids ages 4-12 at no cost.

“I wanted to do my part to support the community during the pandemic,” said Senthil, “and I want to make a difference.”

The idea of Front-line Tots is to give front-line workers a breather to relax and catch up on work, while the kids are safe and entertained in a learning environment. Having grown up in Fonthill (where she was an E. L. Crossley badminton champ in 2018), Senthil wanted a way to show appreciation for local front-line workers, and raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts through donations.

All sessions are attended virtually through the secure video/web conferencing program Zoom. Sessions are at different times during the day depending on age, and there is a different topic every day. Topics include math, visual arts, music, dance, science, and English. There are also “Fun Fridays,” when kids can play games through Zoom as a reward for learning during the week.

The program has been running every weekday for the past two months, and Senthil has designed and run the educational modules herself, with some input from friends and family.

“The kids are really enjoying the program,” said Senthil, relating a story of being recognized while on a walk and being thanked by one of the parents.

“One of the moms said that the kids are really excited about it, because they wake up every day and spend the 30 minutes before class getting ready for it. The session gives her time to get work done and make phone calls.”

Parents can register their children, learn more about the programs available, and make donations at https://frontlinetots.godaddysites.com/

All classes are free, and any donations will go to local hospitals and food banks such as Pelham Cares.