Virtual Youth Forum on COVID-19
By Nell Carpenter, Youth Program Manager
Mental health challenges of LGBTQIA+ youth. Isolation from family members due to medical conditions. Challenges of adjustment for neurodiverse people. Shifting focus towards regenerative agriculture to stave off future crisis. Unequal access to internet and technology for online learning. The urgency of a youth council to provide guidance to the VT Legislature at all times.
These are the thoughts young people in Vermont are having in the peak of the COVID-19 crisis.
This past Monday I joined almost 30 other young people, ages 9 to 23, in a virtual Youth Forum with Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman organized by Vermont Afterschool. After a prep session facilitated by adults in the community, each young person gave up to 2 minutes of testimony about their diverse experiences during this crisis.
Testimonies were simultaneously heartbreaking, uplifting, and inspiring, but what they all undeniably were is IMPORTANT. As VT Afterschool frequently says, young people are the experts in being young people. The virtual forum was novel and critical in how it gave youth a platform to speak their truths, be given the undivided attention of a state leader, and receive an earnest and honest response.
I gave testimony as the oldest-young-person on the call regarding the unique challenges of facing this pandemic while still learning how to, as old-young-people like me would say, “adult.” It was empowering to be given this space and inspiring to do so alongside many other passionate, thoughtful, and driven youth.
I challenge everyone, regardless of age, to create space for young people to tell you about their experiences with the intention of hearing them and seeing them as whole people.
Thanks to the youth who were brave enough to share on Monday, you can do exactly that today by watching the recording of the forum here!