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Helping Young People Adjust To Changing Times

By Maddy Frawley, YWCA Minneapolis Youth Counselor
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September 21, 2020

When the pandemic hit in March, our Girls and Youth programs had to shift quickly to be responsive to the moment and help support youth and their families through a rocky time. In this post, Youth Counselor Maddy Frawley writes how YWCA Girls Inc. shifted its approach and how she thinks young people are adjusting through these times.

When the pandemic first hit in March, our team responded quickly. We knew it would be a difficult time for many students and their families, so we worked to maintain connections.

Zoom Meetups, Phone Calls + Sharing Resources

We began offering regular Zoom programming times, calling home to all of our program participants and using our resources to connect families in need with places to find meals, internet access and other assistance. We used our creativity as a team to make YouTube videos and activities that students could do on their own. We also transitioned our spring break camp from in-person to virtual, and successfully taught STEM, mindfulness and other lessons with students over Zoom with little to no experience in that platform.

Youth Counselors get creative with a Zoom activity

Helping Youth Keep Connected with Friends

We found throughout our Zoom sessions that many of our youth felt disconnected from their peers. We adjusted our lessons to include more ways they could interact with one another. We offered social time on Zoom where our staff took a step back and allowed the youth to talk about topics important to them and play games like Scattegories or Pictionary. We heard feedback from youth that Eureka! summer camp was very meaningful to them.

Our programming offered a sense of normalcy and routine in a time where that is difficult to find.

Young People Adjusting to Changing Times

In the early months of the pandemic, I think youth were grieving for things they were missing out on, like spring break trips, school events and seeing friends.

Young people seem to be feeling a wide array of emotions right now. For some, I know the pandemic on top of many other recent events has taken a large toll on their mental health. I see many youth reaching out and making new connections to one another as a result of this. It is great to see young people supporting one another.

Zoom celebration with Eureka! graduates and YWCA staff

Continued Distance Learning and Virtual Afterschool

Not knowing what comes next is still difficult but it is getting more familiar. I think many young people are nervous and disappointed that they had to return to distance learning, but they are understanding, too. They are ready to take each day one step at a time. After nearly six months, I think youth are adjusting.

What’s Your Favorite Thing?

One question we asked youth at the end of summer programming was “What’s your favorite thing about YWCA Girls Inc.?” Here’s some of what they said:

“The community just makes me feel so safe and confident. It’s my happy place.”

“I can try different things and I can say what I want to without being scared.”

“Getting to be a part of a group where I learn to speak up and stand for what’s right. Also the Zoom meetings.”

Through Girls Inc., girls take risks, discover and grow their inherent strengths, learn to value themselves and create long-lasting mentorship relationships in a pro-girl environment. This fall, we are planning to start two virtual high school programs and continue Eureka! programming virtually. We will also continue to connect with youth — and offer resources and support as they need it.

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Learn More about Girls and Youth Programs