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Join the Conversation! Back to School: COVID Conversations

By Ashley S., Halton Youth Initiative Volunteer

September 11, 2020

On Thursday, August 27, 2020, the Creative Spaces virtual team of the Halton Youth Initiative hosted Back to School: COVID Conversations. This virtual space was a platform in which youth from our team asked other youth in our community questions about how they feel about going back to school in the midst of a global pandemic. Parents were also invited as going back to school involves them just as much as the students, and other community partners were invited to see if they could help youth in their transition to their new normal of school.

One reason we chose to have this conversation was to give everyone a chance to feel a little more connected and know they are not alone. One question asked was “How might the new health procedures affect your learning, and how can your school help ease the learning curve?” An answer to this question, provided by a youth that attended, was “Specific programs are not offered online. The International Baccalaureate (IB) program, for example, is not online and now we must make the decision to go back in class or discontinue the program.” There were no easy answers to this, but Back to School: COVID Conversations was somewhere that this youth could make their concern known and get support from other youth, parents, and community partners. Sometimes support means just being able to listen and validate someone else’s concerns.

Another reason why our conversation took place was because we hope to have more conversations to get feedback and ideas for future conversations from our community about this topic. A link to a survey was provided asking participants for their feedback. Based on the survey, participants most valued the opportunity to connect with their community for support during the pandemic and listen to the perspectives of others. As far as what they would like to see in a future event like this some of the results included:

• The same type of support group space about COVID with different questions

• A speaker who is knowledgeable about something related to youth mental health

• A series of online training workshops for youth around mental health and peer support

We ended our meeting with a community partner’s wise words that could really help many youth in the community. They said, “If you are stressed about what this will do to your future paths, post-secondary options [schools] understand your situation and will assess you differently than graduates from years past. Our focus should be on our mental health and just know everyone wants you to succeed.” This was a perfect way to tie up our conversation as it provided comfort for our future and hope in our hearts.

Did you miss Back to School: COVID Conversations? Here’s the link to the video if you want to listen to the entire conversation.

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