Updated: Nov 2, 2022
I invite you to take a minute to look back on your own childhood. The chances are great that who you are today, how you think, what you do, what you have achieved, what your culture is, etc. was greatly influenced by the mentorship you did (or did not) receive from adults in your life. It is critical that youth are engaged with positive role models and mentors, especially through times of difficulties and ACEs, Adverse Childhood Experiences.
As we face a global crisis of COVID-19 and struggle with unemployment, widespread fear, social distancing, and isolation, it is important that we do not forget the youth in our lives, and this does not only include your direct children. Whether you have students that you work with through a school, youth in a mentorship program, scouts in your troop, youth in a healthcare setting, kids from down the street who like to visit you, youth on a team you coach, or any other role involving youth, I do not believe we as adults realize the impact and mentorship that we have on them.
During these times, youth need trusted adults the most. In college I volunteered for an amazing organization called Gabriel’s Angels with my certified therapy dog. We visited at-risk youth in a variety of settings, working specifically with the students labeled as “behavior difficulties”. These students truly did not enjoy coming to school, but also acted up the week before summer break because as much as they hated school, going home was even worse. It took two years for these students to share this with me… two years!
Can you imagine growing up feeling alone and hopeless? Without a mentor or a meaningful adult relationship? The takeaway point: the youth in your life may not have opened up to you about what truly goes on in their life, or how much your presence in their life is making an impactful difference. During times like these, they need you the most. So how can you help?
The following link includes a checklist with 19 creative ideas for developing relationships during the COVID crisis, including ways to reach out while maintaining proper quarantine restrictions.
Nicole Marlin is a Youth and Families Educator for Arizona Youth Partnership, serving the White Mountains area.