Updated: Aug 17, 2021
Can you believe it? Summer vacation is ending, and it is time for our children to begin another school year. Are they ready? Last year was tough. With the pandemic came so many adjustments---virtual learning, socially distant in-class learning, hand sanitizers, and oh
yes, the masks. While working from home, often parents became teachers and lunch room attendants. In many cases, children were separated from their friends extended family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Activities such as attending large family gatherings, a football game, or a movie were no longer an option. Those who chose to continue these activities did so with some risk or at a great cost. Experiencing the death and loss of a loved one became normal for many of our children.
As we anticipate the beginning of another school year, we are rightfully concerned that our children may have fallen behind in achieving learning benchmarks that have been set for each grade level. Parents have already begun to acquire tutors and other resources that will help them progress academically.
According to the “World Health Organization”:
One in six people are aged 10-19 years.
Mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10-19 years.
Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age, but most cases are undetected and untreated(1).
I believe that making sure our children are mentally prepared is just as important as preparing them academically to begin this new school year. Have we as parents, grandparents and guardians, had a conversation with them concerning all the changes they experienced this past year? Have we taught them:
· it is okay to not be okay at times?
· Learning how to take a deep breathe in and out can center them when they become anxious?
· Taking a walk and getting fresh air or working out can put them in a more relaxed state?
· Prayer and meditation lift the burden off them and puts it on someone greater than them?
· Talking concerns over with someone else opens the door for help from a trusted friend or health professional?
In a world where mental health is suddenly in the limelight, we cannot exclude our youth
fro m the conversation or the focus when solutions are sought. A healthy child knows who they are and believes that they are unique. As a believer, I love the scripture in Psalms 139 that tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (carefully made with purpose). Our greatness is found in appreciating who we are and being able to look beyond who we are to see and encourage the greatness in others. We were created for community; many members one body!
Organizations like Power of PROGENY (Pioneers Reaching Out for the Greater Elevation of our Nation’s Youth) strive to teach young people that how they feel and who they are important. Power of Progeny will provide a constant level of support and community for young people.
by POP Secretary Margie Goodson