The Social Effects of Covid-19 on Children and Teens

Theatrical plays, special interest clubs, field trips, recesses and lunch breaks, inter-school events and final year traditions like proms and graduations have always been something that students look forward to throughout the school year. These events provide a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment after spending long hours within the four walls of their classroom. These also give them a chance to express themselves in a unique way.

When Covid-19 hit, educational institutions were one of the first sectors that needed to adjust to ensure the health and safety of its thousands of students and instructors. Following the government’s safety protocols like BC’s Back to School Plan, protective measures have been strongly implemented by schools. Physical distancing, along with the creation of small learning groups, are observed during recesses, lunch breaks, and extracurricular activities. Playground activities and clubs like dance, theatre, sports, and music will see some changes as physical contact is minimized. Furthermore, it has been strongly recommended that inter-school competitions and festivals are cancelled during this time. 

To reduce the spread of Covid-19 and to abide by the various protective measures, schools have made the hard decision of suspending or postponing social events and traditions, specifically those that typically attract a large gathering of students. As a result, students have been missing out on many of the important social activities and opportunities to make memories with friends and family.

Even though it is essential that we understand and comply with the Covid-19 restrictions in place, it is worth taking a deeper look at how children and teenagers will be affected as a result.

Feelings of disappointment or dismay, specifically in younger children, may emerge out of not being able to meet with friends and experience special occasions to the same extent as before. Also, anxiety levels can increase as children may worry or fear for the changes occurring around them, potentially affecting their future.

Through an email interview with Mary Yan, clinical counsellor and family therapist, she provided insights about childhood anxieties. One of the approaches she personally uses to help understand children's emotional struggles is called Synergetic Play Therapy. Through the use of this therapy, Yan has been able to take a more thorough look at parents' roles, applying her methods and learnings to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Yan, “There are at least two things that trigger anxiety, or threaten the nervous system. The Unknowns (not knowing what’s going to happen) and Incongruence (what I see or am told do not match what I feel and sense in my body)." She emphasized how important it is for parents to help alleviate their children's uncertainties.

Yan advises that ensuring constant communication between parents and children is an essential part of improving wellbeing for everyone. It is an essential thing for parents to be appropriately truthful with their children about their thoughts and feelings. Moreover, parents can help their children see the deeper meaning behind the adjustments being made and talk about creative alternatives to enjoying activities and celebrating special occasions without physically meeting.

Yan also advised parents to establish routines for their children to provide a more stable structure in their daily lives, which in turn will boost their sense of control, decrease their feelings of uncertainty, and will ease their anxiety. Planning everyday tasks like family time, arts and crafts activities, mini sports competitions, and regularly checking in with each other are extremely beneficial.

She also notes that as parents, ”we can’t really tell children that they, their family members, or their friends will never get sick, but we can tell them that we can wash our hands more often when outside of the home, keep physical distance and keep ourselves healthy.” To ease fear and worry, parents can reassure their children that those who do get sick are looked after and cared for by families and doctors. They can provide moral strength and improve their children’s state of mind with reassuring statements.

Amidst the present circumstances, technology is a key resource that parents can utilize to help their kids celebrate social traditions and connect with their friends. Some educational institutions and groups of students have welcomed a new normal by continuing events online, with club activities, proms, and graduations being held virtually. Through FaceTime or Zoom, students are able to experience their proms and graduations in the safety of their homes. Parents can hold intimate homestyle graduation ceremonies and photoshoots as a gift for their children, while special interest clubs like drama, music, and dance can do their performances virtually.

Despite the shifts in our way of life due to Covid-19, it is inspiring to see how we all are continuing to learn and adapt in the face of adversity. Traditions like school celebrations and extra-curricular activities may change in structure, but they remain valuable and should not be forgotten. These events are moments that children keep in their hearts for a long time, and should be treated as such.

Author: Marielle Valmores

 


Gratitude for the Canadian Red Cross Society

Amidst the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an organization that has chosen to go above and beyond the call of duty to help individuals, cities, and even countries to persevere. The Canadian Red Cross Society (Red Cross) has been, and continues to face adversity and fear head-on, coordinating a strong team of staff and volunteers to help support Canada in a variety of ways, both big and small. 

The Red Cross mission is to “improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.” The Organization is built upon humanitarian values, including respect, inclusiveness, integrity, transparency, and accountability, to name a few. They pride themselves on the high level of quality and care that goes into their operations, as well as the strength of their generous donors and over 6000 volunteers. 

The Red Cross services include but are not limited to the areas of support for senior, emergency and disaster, community housing, migrant/refugee, aboriginal, nutrition and transportation, and violence, bullying, and abuse prevention. During the pandemic, the Red Cross has been working in partnership with the Canadian federal government and local municipalities to provide programs and services for vulnerable individuals and communities. Specifically, the Red Cross volunteers have been distributing food to those in need, providing comfort and care services to returning Canadians, making friendly calls to seniors and providing virtual care over the phone (Telephone Assurance Program), conducting door-to-door wellness checks, and delivering emergency relief services (Health Equipment Loan Program). 

The Red Cross has also been utilizing their resources to support other non-profit organizations across Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations eligible for funding include those with activities focused on responding to the demand for vital goods and services, delivering vital services or programming as a result of new needs or losses, and supporting efforts to increase community awareness, information and education related to COVID-19. 

Build a Biz Kids (a.k.a. BizKids Practical Education Association) has been immensely fortunate in receiving grants this past year from the Red Cross. These grants have allowed us to provide over 1000 children across Canada, aged 6 to 13, with access to practical and engaging online education during a time when schools were closed and many households were experiencing high tension. Thanks to the grants, students were able to access 10 hours of live, two-way, interactive programming each week in areas such as coding, chess, business, graphic design, inventing, creative writing, drama, STEM, yoga, and more! 

In addition to educating children across Canada, Build a Biz Kids was also able to provide training and support to over 400 teachers, coaches, and other support workers whose duties have shifted online in order to connect with their clients and students. Courses, seminars, and workshops were provided for free to help them navigate these new methods of communication. 

With the assistance and generosity of the Red Cross, Build a Biz Kids and so many other non-profit organizations across Canada have been able to positively impact an inspiring number of individuals and communities through this trying situation. The Red Cross is a leading humanitarian organization, utilizing their resources and mobilizing their courageous employees and volunteers before, during, and after disaster occurs. They have and will continue to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Canada and all around the world. 

Build a Biz Kids is among those who have been touched by the generosity of the Red Cross, for which we are immensely grateful. On behalf of our entire organization, we thank you for your boundless and benevolent support through the COVID-19 pandemic; as well as in all the other situations in which your resources have made a significant difference to the lives of people in Canada and around the world. 

 

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Donate to the Red Cross Canadian Emergencies & COVID-19 Response Fund

 


The Story Behind Build a Biz Kids

How It All Began

Build a Biz Kids was co-founded by Leah Coss and Braden Ricketts using their values and beliefs as the foundation of the Company, their many ideas as the construction plan with an endless elevation, and their inspiration and drive as the mortar holding everything together.

In 2018, Coss was a Franchise Consultant and Ricketts was working with the YMCA doing career counseling, program development, and grant funding. Coss had recently made it her goal to be the best and most well-known franchise consultant in the world. To do this, she started scheduling meetings with a variety of CEOs to compile a database of information that could help her accomplish this goal.

After having conducted a few interviews, she spoke with a woman named Tressa Woods, Founder and CEO of Young Entrepreneur Learning Labs (YELL). YELL is an organization that offers hands-on learning for children through entrepreneurship programs. Not long after talking to Woods, Coss changed directions completely, deciding to launch her own licensed YELL program alongside Ricketts, registering themselves as a non-profit company under the name Biz Kids Practical Education Association, also known as Build a Biz Kids. The Company now develops their own practical education programs and hands-on learning curriculums for children aged 8-14.

 

Who We Are

Build a Biz Kids provides youth of all backgrounds with access to practical education that prepares them for a continuously evolving world. The Company mission is to prepare a new generation of forward-thinking youth to tackle whatever challenges the future may hold. Their practical education programs are designed to provide kids with hands-on learning experiences through real-world projects. They encourage the application and development of foundational soft skills that will remain relevant for a lifetime, such as critical thinking, resiliency, decision-making, leadership, adaptability, self awareness, communication, and collaboration.

One of the main goals of Build a Biz Kids is to push the boundary of traditional education. On a larger scale, the Company aims to transform the way humans are valued in society. This is accomplished through allowing kids to think differently, supporting the idea that one’s value should be based on the discovery and pursuit of their passions and fostering a lifelong learning mentality from an early age.

 

Advocacy

In addition to the practical education goals of Build a Biz Kids, the Company seeks to alleviate and eventually eliminate the societal challenge that is the “digital divide” – the gap between those who have access to computers and the internet and those who do not. The digital divide has been increasing alongside technological evolution, and the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused it to be exacerbated. This is because educational institutions, like many other industries, were forced to go completely virtual, leaving behind anyone without access to adequate technology and high-speed internet.

The efforts of Build a Biz Kids toward the reduction of the digital divide are being done by spreading awareness on social media, facilitating dialogues, and educating on the many ways in which people can get involved and contribute. The Company collects funds to purchase computers for donation, in addition to upcycling used computers that have been donated by organizations.

As an outcome of the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic, Build a Biz Kids launched BBK Network, an online learning platform operating under the same guiding principles and goals toward providing practical education for children. Unlike its non-profit sister brand, BBK Network is a benefit corporation social enterprise. A social enterprise aims to achieve social, cultural, community, and/or environmental outcomes through their operations. For each class of BBK Network students, one laptop is donated to a family in need, and one student in a BBK program receives subsidized tuition.

 

The Build a Biz Kids Team

It is a community effort that drives Build a Biz Kids forward. There is a volunteer army working behind the scenes and contributing to the Company mission utilizing their own expertise to reach new levels and goals. It is through the passion of the community, partners, and growing team that Build a Biz Kids has been able to see such incredible results in such a short amount of time.

The Company will continue to pursue their mission and vision, advocating for change and progressing in accordance with shifting environmental conditions and adversity, just as they encourage their students to do through their practical education programs. Coss, President of Build a Biz Kids, states that “There is no right answer, there are only better answers that evolve over time.” She believes that education systems should focus on developing incredible human beings, not just good calculators, and her values will always be the heart and soul of Build a Biz Kids.