One of the many effects of the pandemic during the spring was the shutdown of schools.
At the time, many people responded – students included– by adapting to technological tools such as Zoom as a way to connect for school, business and socialization.
Now, young people will be using the tool to take part in an online conversation set for the morning of Nov. 4 about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected them.
The Community Conversation for Youth is an event of the Comox Valley Community Health Network (CVCHN) in conjunction with local students in secondary and post-secondary school. The focus is on the many challenges as well as opportunities for young people in this area resulting from the pandemic.
“The Comox Valley Community Health Network recognized in the early days of the pandemic that we are all experiencing a significant life event that is impacting people’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. We started the Pandemic Community Conversations to help people see and find their role to play in helping to build health, connection, vibrancy, and resilience for our communities,” says the CVCHN’s Jenn Meilleur.
The organization hosted two virtual conversations in June, and from these, it wanted to hear more from some key groups.
For the upcoming event, young people are taking part in the design of the event and as facilitators. It is aimed at young people between the ages of 12 and 29. The facilitators will help guide the conversation. Tristan Rendell, a Vanier student, is one of the young people – along with Sophie Macdonald and Frank Goudie – helping to put together the event. He’s had experience in setting up similar community conversations.
“I actually ran a mini-conversation cafe,” he says. ‘It’s like a style of brainstorming session. It’s more commonly known as a world cafe.”
This was over the summer, with a focus on local activism. Through this, he made many connections, including the Comox Valley Community Health Network.
“I just found that it was … a really powerful experience,” he adds.
He’s working with connections at the other local secondary schools to reach out to other youth for the digital forum.
“We can get a better sense of how COVID affected youth during lockdown,” he says.
Following the event, the plan is to make recommendations to community organizations and policy-makers on how to support young people’s mental and physical health. Already, the organizers say, the pandemic has led to increased social isolation.
“Based on what we hear, we will be making recommendations to organizations who have a role in pandemic response and recovery about how to respond to and support people’s physical and mental health during future pandemic phases,” says Meilleur. “What we hear and learn will also influence the priorities of the Community Health Network and the actions that we take and support.”
The online conversation starts at 9:15 a.m and runs to 11:15 a.m. Anyone who’s interested can find out more information or register for the event at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/community-conversations-for-youth-tickets-123107553005