J. Brandon Johnson and Se7en Blackman welcome Nathan Ivy, the director of Vision for Children at Risk, to the Digital Liberation Front program for a long overdue conversation about the effects of quarantine on children.
Ivy described his experience working with families in St. Louis focused on the social and emotional well being of children, particularly in stress situations.
Ivy commented on the national conversation around the COVID19 media coverage which focuses almost exclusively on adults, “All of the adults are in such ‘scavenger’ and survival mode that they just left the kids out of the equation…[children] need the time to grab something to eat, if there is something to eat, do their homework if there is an option to do that and then go to sleep and start all over.”
Ivy relates the examples of students who struggle with food insecurities for a variety of reasons, along with everything else, children who had been getting meals at after school organizations who may not have these same opportunities today.
“Now COVID piled on top of that,” he said. “You’re just increasing the stressors and so the parents are stressed, the kids are stressed and then there is this ‘flight or fight’ mode. and now is when we start to talk about the trauma is being played out.”
Brandon and Se7en turn the discussion toward options for families to consider, including local outreach groups who offer budget counseling for families under duress from a loss of income as well as those that can help families apply for the federal relief benefits.
Ivy expands on this and urges families to embrace lessons learned from prior generations and similar hardships.
“The stimulus check is not going to do it, so you have to figure out how to manage,’ Ivy said. “And then also how to collaborate and go back to a shared sense of responsibility. A community is a shared sense of responsibility…we really are all in this together.”
The DLF program expands on this idea of community as an innate need in our collective human experience. The loss of personal connection has been felt keenly across the country and no more so than in children and teens. This sense of loss is made worse through examples of adults ignoring CDC and state guidelines for social distancing and those crowds splashed on the news gathering for social amusements.
“Unfortunately, I think, we look at this from a pessimistic point of view opposed to an optimistic point,” explained Ivy.
“One of the things, an opportunity that we miss during all of this is, for many people, particularly people of color, there is an obesity issue. This is an opportune time to curtail that behavior.”
He goes on to describe changing a personal view of the pandemic as an opportunity to carefully examine what we eat, when, and taking this time without the hectic commute rush to make thoughtful choices about modest exercise goals that include the family.
Ivy explains that this can be a personal moment to pivot toward the positive as a way to capitalize on this time to help prepare individuals to reset their lives once the emergency and risk is mitigated.
Additional resources for families: