For more than 80 years, BGC has been giving children and youth a place to belong during the critical out-of-school hours, where with the help and guidance of highly trained staff and volunteers, they discover who they are, that they matter, what they are capable of, and that they have promising futures. Serving more than 10,000 individuals each year, BGC specifically offers nearly 500 youth social recreation, academic, and mental health programs through our Clubs.
Social distancing and social isolation are what we all have to do right now. But for youth, it holds significant risk for their development and their futures. Research shows that, compared to adults, youth are more vulnerable to the emotional impact of traumatic events that disrupt their daily lives. It is also true that 75% of mental health issues first begin to emerge during adolescence, when youth aren’t yet able to distinguish or differentiate what is an emerging mental health issue versus situational stress or anxiety. Adolescence is a critical period in the development of a youth’s identity, self-confidence, and relationship skills, ultimately influencing their future success.
During COVID-19, the required restrictions have meant that youth have been separated from peers and mentors, and from their learning environments. Meanwhile, the online world (including social media channels) serves as both their library, and playground. We are already concerned about the frequency and amount that youth turn to the online world for distraction, escape, and to seek connections, but in this time of social distancing and restrictions, that increases the chance that youth become further isolated and at risk.
All of this, combined with research that consistently shows that vulnerable youth fall further behind academically during times when they are out of school, calls on us to act now to help BGC to enhance their academic and mental health supports for youth right now. Click here to make a donation that will support youth right now.
Carolyn Tuckwell, President & CEO