In the six months since we transitioned into online platforms, Girls Inc. of Durham has remained nimble and committed to supporting our girls. We’ve been responding to the needs of our community, from providing trauma-informed remote programming to supplying basic needs and resources for our community’s girls and families.
Our girls participated in our first remote online virtual summer, taking part in science experiments, yoga and physical fitness, activities, and mentorships all online.
With starting the fall, the health and safety of our girls, staff and community is still of paramount importance to us all. Navigating the circumstances of this pandemic, quarantine and practicing safe social distancing measurers has affected the interaction, engagement, connection and support we have with others. The needs of the girls and parents we serve is clear. A space is needed, virtual and physical, for girls in our community to gather, connect and interact with one another. Lack of these needs met, in addition to the anxiety and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, has the potential to greatly influence and impact one’s mental health and well being.
This fall, we’ve continued to adapt programs for our girls, starting a series of wellness programs for live, digital GirlSpace and GirlZone leadership programming. We have implemented small group setting to 12 participants to allow for proper physical distancing, and other important safety measures to keep staff and girls safe. Implementation of these standards would, in the view of the medical experts we sought counsel from, further help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in our communities but have a positive affect on our girls mental health.
We recognize that some participants will either not be able to or will not feel comfortable attending an in person program. As such, we will run virtual programming (ZOOM videoconferencing), via laptops and webcam in the collaborating space in our office, simultaneously so those who still want to be involved can do so comfortably.
In addition, we are currently working on putting together toolkits with activities. We have created and are using a Girls Inc YouTube channel where we can post and share videos of Girls Inc. activities/tutorials to further engage our girls and community.
Technology is keeping people engaged during this pandemic and we at Girls Inc. are working hard to become familiar with and utilize the many forms of technology to reach as many members of the community as possible. Join us on our social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube).
This Thanksgiving we have the opportunity to spend time reflecting on a challenging year and being ever more grateful for those around us. At the top of my list are our dedicated Team Members who have supported our girls and communities in so many ways. As the holiday weekend approaches, I urge you all to carve out a moment of reflection, consider the incredible impact your efforts have had on your family, children or community, and understand that your successes may not look the same as they have in past years. You deserve to take some time to be kind to yourself, to try and turn off from the hustle and the uncertainty. Our own wellness is our strength and we need to honour it by taking a bit of time to recharge. In line with World Mental Health Day, taking place Saturday, October 10, 2020, we would like to share some information on subjects that are relevant to the health of the population. Please find some information below on the Do Something initiative aimed at promoting positive mental health among youth.
Living through a pandemic is not easy. Life has changed, forcing people to adapt. Young people, especially, have felt the impacts. With COVID-19 causing uncertainty and changes to our routines, mental health is more important than ever. Fortunately, there is a growing recognition of the importance of helping young people build mental resilience, from the earliest ages, in order to cope with the challenges of today’s world. Evidence is growing that promoting and protecting adolescent health brings benefits not just to adolescents’ health, both in the short- and the long-term, but also to economies and society, with healthy young adults able to make greater contributions to the workforce, their families and communities and society as a whole.
The Government of Canada has collaborated with Jack.org to launch a special edition of Do Something, a series of small initiatives that make a big difference in promoting positive mental health. I invite you to “pick up” a card and rise up to the challenge! When the initiative is completed, you will be given a “card” to play that challenges someone else.
Each initiative is a small but meaningful step towards positive mental health for yourself and the people around you. Maybe something we can do this Thanksgiving holiday as we practice gratitude.
To learn more and to participate, visit the Do Something Web page.
From our Girls Inc. family to yours, wishing you a safe and meaningful Thanksgiving.
Yvette Nechvatal-Drew, Executive Director