By Kellor Smith, Youth and Families
Weather. Never has it been more critical because we must meet outside, and we can’t do that unless the weather cooperates! We found a perfect weather date last week, and the youth met outside for the first time in months. I ordered pizza and we all wore our masks. The one year of loneliness and isolation is huge for all, but especially our youth. Being with their peers is so important. They are trying to figure out who they are, and they are all worried about reentering the busy life of being a teen. An in-person setting is so helpful as they share their experiences and thoughts about where their lives are headed.
The youth, grade 6-12, have 5 to 8 Zoom classes a day, plus home work groups and Zoom small groups with their teachers. They must show up to each Zoom class and sign in. Some are allowed to choose if they want to have their cameras on or off, and over 2/3 of them do not turn on their cameras, reinforcing feelings of loneliness and isolation for youth of all ages.
As a few shared,
“I feel like I am alone in school. My brain tells me that I am the only one who is in this class. I begin to feel depressed again.”
“When the teacher calls on someone who does not have their camera on, they often do not answer which just reinforcing my depressing thought that I am alone.”
“I need conversations, sharing of ideas and to see their faces to keep my focus and interest.”
“I often feel like becoming a little black Zoom box, too.”
As all the youth nodded their heads in agreement, I saw their eyes fill with relief as they realized they are not the only ones who feel the loneliness of Zoom school.
A few made a new club - Students Who Won’t Turn Off Their Zoom Cameras!
We talked how they could envision God in the empty black boxes. God is with us everywhere even in the zoom classes black box.
With all the other events (or lack of events) this year that are making it hard for our youth to manage their sense of self-worth and their feelings of loneliness, we need to continue to check in with our kids of all ages. Play a game, watch a movie or eat a meal together –just a few ways to provide opportunities to listen to and talk with them. They might even share with you how lonely they are today. They might not, as teens will be teens, but they will know that you are trying.
They crave familiar traditions. They were so happy to have pizza and red vines, our traditional meal (with fruit and carrots added sometimes!) and just BE with each other.
“I am so happy sitting here among friends, doing normal stuff. Maybe I am ready to reenter the busy world.”
But only if they have red vines to share!
The Mouse is the long-running news source for St. John's. With decades of history, our blog now features the same great news about what's happening at St. John's with a more frequent publication cycle.