Supporting our kids any way we can

Column by Karen Quanbeck
Posted 4/9/21

Community. Connections. Coherence. We’ve been thinking a lot about these words over the last year. In Clear Creek, we’ve been fortunate to have kids in school for the majority of the …

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Supporting our kids any way we can

Posted
Community. Connections. Coherence. We’ve been thinking a lot about these words over the last year. In Clear Creek, we’ve been fortunate to have kids in school for the majority of the school year. And yet, it’s still a strange year, with activities paused, rescheduled, changed or canceled.
Kids look forward to those milestone events, like homecoming games and dances, prom, spring musicals, pep rallies, robotic competitions and more. They cherish supporting friends at a basketball game, planning a last-minute surprise pizza party, going on ill-planned adventures.
With health and safety protocols, which are essential and have allowed kids to be together more this year, everything looks different. And this has an impact on the social emotional well-being of kids. 
When you ask kids what they’ve learned during the last year, their answers provide insight and inspiration. 
Kids talk about achieving a great understanding of self and self-motivation. Some have done a deep dive into old passions and hobbies; others have found new passions and hobbies. They talk about developing remote-learning skills that will now apply to future careers.
They have a greater awareness of the world beyond Clear Creek County. With great empathy, kids see that everyone is going through something; they see among themselves there are more mental health issues surfacing, more than anxiety and depression. 
When asked what they want others to know about their experience, kids tell us they want adults to know that they have gained a broader understanding of learning and school through their pandemic experience. However, they feel uncertain and unprepared for the future.
As educators, parents and community members, how might we all wrap our supports around kids as they emerge from this last year of pandemic learning? While we wrestle with our own challenges of moving forward after a year of unprecedented experiences, can we turn our focus to lifting up kids?
It is possible that by devoting energy to supporting kids, we will also help heal ourselves. 
Specifically, this could mean supporting great organizations like Resilience1220, www.resilience1220.org, with volunteer time or dollars. This organization provides mental health supports and activities for youth ages 12-20 in our mountain community at no charge.
They literally save lives of kids in our community by connecting kids in crisis with counselors, by facilitating events and activities for kids to attend, and by helping kids develop resilience.
Mountain Youth Network, mountainyouthnetwork.org, is another organization that has a sole purpose of supporting kids. With a focus on the physical and mental health of kids, MYN provides a space and support for kids to get together and build leadership skills, to get outside and try new activities, and to be engaged in their own community. 
Supporting kids could also mean volunteering at schools in the fall, either virtually or in person as protocols allow. In Clear Creek, we are looking for people to do career talks, provide internships or apprenticeships, provide one-day job shadows and more. By helping kids explore areas of interest and helping them see what amazing opportunities exist right here in our community, we foster hope and motivation for kids. Interested? Contact Becky.Dancer@ccsdre1.org
Supporting kids could also mean simply taking time to ask how they are doing, what they are excited about, what they are worried about today and tomorrow. While teens especially can seem less than excited to talk with adults, they actually open up and appreciate talking when we show empathy and a true interest in their answers. 
Community. Connections. Coherence. In the words of our educators, “we miss the face to face, the handshakes and hugs with our extended community.” However “we are accomplishing what we are here to do. It is hard. Sometimes we are overwhelmed. But every day is a risk we are willing to take.” And put most clearly, “We are not just surviving, we are thriving.” 
Our kids are our most treasured resource. Supporting them in every way we can will help us all do more than survive, we will thrive as will our entire community.
Karen Quanbeck is superintendent of the Clear Creek School District.

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