By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4)— Many students spent their first day of school, sitting behind a computer, alone. An elementary school student realized she’s not the only kid missing social interaction, so she created an outdoor event for them to come together safely.

(credit: CBS)

Johara was excited to begin third grade at Corey Elementary. After ending the previous year remote learning, the school-loving 8-year-old was crushed to be in front of a computer again.

“I miss my friends and my teachers, even the strangers I didn’t know. I miss the socialization,” said Johara.

Instead of telling her mom about the first week of school, Johara asked her mom what else she could do.

“We started a little idea to get my mind off of school and start focusing on how we can help other kids,” said Johara. “I’m missing school, but other kids are having a much worse time than I am right now.”

(credit: CBS)

At first Johara thought about tutoring, but she found way to bring kids of all ages together safely. She calls it “Front Yard Story Time.”

“Maximum five kids and masks are required,” Johara read from her hand-made flyer. Her mom took Johara to get the fliers copied, and helped her drop them off to every neighborhood home with children.

Her Front Yard Story Time flyer reads: “My name is Johara. I love little kids. I’m in 3rd grade and I am 8. My inspiration for this program is to help kids have something to look forward to. I really want to go back to school, but as we all know, I can’t. I hope this can help us all feel more connected. I hope you join me.”

(credit: CBS)

Johara hopes to host children twice a week in her front yard. She read to her first group of kids Wednesday afternoon. Johara’s mom was outside, cheering her daughter on.

“Just seeing her breaking down and crying and upset, having that sheer desperation of ‘wait a minute, I’m really not going back’ was really hard for me as a mom to see,” said Leigh, Johara’s mother.

Johara wants to continue story time after students go back to in-person learning. It’s one part of her new normal she doesn’t want to get old.

“I’m most proud of her because she’s socially aware and has that level of empathy for other people,” said Leigh.

(credit: CBS)

For more information on Johara’s story time, email her mother at lalecheleigh@gmail.com.

Tori Mason

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