Marshall County Bed Blitz helps students sleep at night
This story is one in a WKMS News series highlighting organizations and groups helping others amid the pandemic.
Children experience many things that prevent them from sleeping at night; be it struggles in a friendship, nightmares, or a little too much caffeine before the “fires go out.” Yet for some youth in Marshall County, it was as easy as not having a bed.
Kentucky Family Resource and Youth Service Centers (FRYSCs), particularly Roots to Wings YSC of Marshall County Schools, have worked to ensure elementary and secondary students in Kentucky receive care and are able to flourish academically regardless of existing situations resulting from the current health pandemic.
Roots to Wings FRYSC coordinator Glenda Byers said shortly before the pandemic that she administered the required biennial survey that determined program offerings going forward. The findings included the concern of 75% of faculty and school staff who said insufficient sleep was one of the top student health issues. In response to the survey results, FRYSC facilitated a program called “Bed Blitz” in partnership with local churches, volunteers, fellow students, the local extension club and the housewives club.
Roots to Wings examined the students and 25 of them said they did not have a clean bed. Of these students, 21 agreed to participate in the Bed Blitz program and receive a bed.
The twin beds, constructed from 1x lumber and plywood, were built in partnership with churches and a local bed ministry in Marshall County at a community service event. Other partners included the housewives club, which made pillow cases for the beds, and a local business that donated a new mattress for each student’s bed.
Mary is the proud mother of her daughter, Zoey (17), and six other children, all of whom have received beds through the Bed Blitz program. The four boys and three girls shared beds on their respective side of the bedrooms before receiving the beds from Bed Blitz.
Zoey said that before receiving beds, she and her siblings were lying so much that they couldn’t stretch their legs out and be comfortable.
“They always tell me that they are grateful to have the beds because now they have their own space,” she says, “Sometimes when we slept together in the same bed we would wake up.”
Since receiving beds, Mary said her children got along better at school and at home. She said she no longer played the peacemaker as the kids argued over who would get which blanket, pillow or side of the bed. She said she could also sleep better at night knowing that her children were settled peacefully.
Byers reported that during this program, the FRYSC made an effort to build beds for the children and to build relationships with these students to give them something that was truly theirs. Zoey said she felt the gesture.
“I like the part where they added things like what we would probably like. Like the color of the things they chose. For mine, I have bedding with flowers on it, which is precisely what I really like. I just had to tell them what I really wanted and they chose the right comfy bedding and pillows … and comfy, cozy, cozy blankets that would help us feel comfortable at night.
Byers said the relationship she builds with families through programs and home visits is a great way to put a face to her name and to the FRYSC.
“Whenever we help a family with a bed, I always go out home, and it’s just a great way to build that relationship … And I’ve noticed that the families we’ve helped with beds are more likely to contact me when other things come up because I think they feel a little more comfortable, ”she said.
Zoey and Mary said the FRYSC’s help did not end with a reduction in difficult sleeping conditions.
“She’s a really nice person that I admire because she helped us with a lot of things that we didn’t know we could get help with. For example, bedding. We didn’t know we could get clothes, we didn’t know if we had issues or issues like not having something, she would still be there, ”Zoey said.
Zoey and Mary also expressed their gratitude to the church members who delivered the beds to their homes.
“After knowing that they were from the church, we were really happy because then we know precisely which church it was from and how happy we are to have churches here that help us like that,” he said. said Zoey, “Our favorite part of this was when they came in and prayed for us. It was amazing and I was so happy.
Zoey said having her own bed also had a positive impact on her academic performance.
“From my perspective, it changed me not being able to sleep to sleeping comfortably at night and being able to pay attention to my school. I used to not really pay attention at school because I really couldn’t really sleep at night and now I’m doing so much better, ”Zoey said.
Regional Program Director William Owen expressed confidence in the region’s FRYSC centers, saying 13 of the programs in the Region 1 centers, including the Marshall County Bed Blitz program, were highlighted. in the statewide impact report.
The highlight included a finding from the results of the Bed Blitz program and the report that for students who received a bed, “attendance rates increased by an average of 15% and GPA increased by an average of 20% upon completion. of the spring semester. ” Following its success, Bed Blitz continues to provide beds to students or families who need them.
Referring to the pandemic, Owen said, “The FRYSC was made for this. It was a situation that the coordinators were prepared for, were ready to adapt to, and it was an opportunity for them to shine and show the benefits of having a center in a community or the benefits of connection and relationships and what it does when the going gets tough. “