Turning to tradition of pen-pals help kids deal with coronavirus pandemic

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While kids are stuck at home, some of them are keeping in touch with friends far away.

Some of them are doing it as their grandparents did by getting pen-pals and sending hand-written letters to friends in other states, thanks to a 4-H pen-pal program.

Kristie Popa is a 4-H agent with the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension (UF/IFAS) outreach program in Charlotte County.

She said, “We just wanted them to be able to meet new people, have connections and understand that other people are going through the same thing, but we wanted them to be able to learn something at the same time.”

Arielle Pierce is also an agent with the program, adding, “It is something that was created by two agents in Charlotte and Hendry County and they host it and it was opened up to everybody throughout the state and throughout the nation.”

Charlotte County students Connor Lawson and Mason Sariego, write to out-of-state friends.

Connor communicates by email and explained, “It’s kind of important to know how to send an email and talk to people you don’t know, so I think it will be helpful when I grow up.”
And mason writes letters.

Mason does it the old fashioned way with pen and paper, saying, “We have a lot in common. We like playing video games, we like Star Wars, YouTube.”

While the penpal program reaches across Florida and to 20 other states, it helps kids connect with their words.

“It has made it a lot easier to deal with coronavirus too because I know I’m not just dealing with it alone,” Connor said. “I have people around the United States dealing with it too.”

On top of that, it teaches kids the etiquette behind writing letters or sending emails, while reminding all of us a written sentiment will never go out of style.

Florida 4-H is offering free virtual activities online to help kids and families find activities while staying home.

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