P.H.A.S.E 1 Youth Association will be hosting virtual Social, Emotional Workshops for youth to provide them with support during the COVID 19 pandemic. The aim is at helping youth to maneuver through these difficult times as they are losing out on interpersonal contact from their prolonged isolation. The Zoom event will be on for three days, January 23rd, 26th and 28th. The P.H.A.S.E.1. Alumni Committee headed by President Denham Brown will be providing a team of alumni mentors and community partners to present the free workshops on various topics related to; self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making and relationship skills during a stressful COVID-19 pandemic that devastated the lives of their family and friends.
This pandemic has taken a lot from many of us and our youth especially have suffered a great deal. They are used to physical interactions and social connections more than adults and they need the opportunity to be in a space where they are seen and heard, where they can express themselves and share their thoughts and ideas. Various social media platforms have provided an alternative, however, it still doesn’t come as close as a simple face to face conversation.
Studies related to similar outbreaks such as COVID-19 have shown that there is evidence of the mental toll and increased risks of suicide that should be monitored as well as resources to be made available to address the mental health challenges and long term effects. (Taken from abstract written by Hai Le, MD et al). Adolescents have a lot to confront now with school closures and sometimes their anxiety will get the most of them, they need a distraction to remind them to take care of themselves and their mental health. They also need proper guidance in how to be productive with all the new free time they now have, because regardless of school being online it is not structured as how it normally is and some are only open to physical classes a few times a week still leaving plenty of time for them to engage in activities that are not necessarily conducive to their wellbeing.
According to an article published by NBC News (Gail Cornwall et al), “Adolescents don't just prefer to spend time with their peers; they do so as part of their need to pull away from their parents to test their values, practice problem-solving and log the thousands of interactions that are essential to maturation”. Adolescence is a most critical point in the lives of children, now is the time where they build their social connections and develop their emotional independence.
On the other side of things this pandemic has caused many teenagers to lose their support systems, for most being at school was more than just seeing their friends, it was where they would get an actual meal, or have a teacher or someone they trust to talk to about what’s going on in their lives, it’s where they could escape the pressures of home, because as we all know not everyone is fortunate enough to come from a stable household. Now with the pandemic forcing everyone to be at home, they have to face a lot of issues head on and some of them do not know how to deal with it.
There is also the case of these adolescents engaging in romantic or sexual relationships during lock down (Elizabeth Heubeck). Again the absence of school presents itself with opportunities for young people to engage in various unsupervised activities, and with no guidance counsellor or access to a safe environment for learning interpersonal skills they would normally be exposed to in school. Parents do their best to steer their children in the correct path when it comes to complex relationship situations as they arise but many are not in a position to provide full time monitoring to their children. Having a forum such as this to discuss this topic and other complex topics that children may not know how to share with their parents will help to clear a path as to how they can engage in safe and healthy relationships while in lock down.
P.H.A.S.E. 1 Youth Association is grateful for the support of the P.H.A.S.E. 1 Alumni Committee in making this Youth Wellness Forum a reality and providing the mentors for the workshops to help young people cope during this time. The children and young adults involved will definitely learn skills and strategies that will help them take back control of their lives, because even though we are in a pandemic we still have a responsibility to prepare for our future and take care of our physical, mental and emotional health. To be a part of this collective COVID-19 response for support please have a young person sign up on www.phase1youthassociation.com to secure a place on the FREE Zoom workshops and also receive a $20 Amazon eGift card for participating.