• Today is: Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Pittsburgh kids fight the stigma of mental health with a powerful peer-to-peer program

Rege Behe
July06/ 2020

Photo: Students participate in the Take Down the Stigma event earlier this year at West Allegheny High School.

As a student, Brendan saw other kids at Montour High School made fun of because they were depressed. He witnessed kids with mental health issues or substance abuse problems subjected to taunts, hazing and harassment.

Last year, instead of standing on the sidelines, Brendan joined Stand Together Against the Stigma, a program in which kids collaborate to destigmatize mental illness and provide peer-to-peer support when kids are ostracized because of it.

“To see the stigma reduced is a big thing,” says Brendan, a rising senior.

Part of the Allegheny County Office of Behavioral Health, Stand Together was founded in 2013 to provide middle and high school students with anti-stigma training and to increase awareness. Following intensive training, kids in 26 participating schools meet in groups to develop their own projects to support their peers.

The Stand Together teams were disappointed this spring when, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the year-end Recognition Event was canceled. The event had outgrown its usual Heinz History Center space and was to be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Instead of the public showcase celebrating students’ projects, the year’s work was recapped in a video as part of the program’s reaction to school closings this past spring.

Usually, Stand Together efforts conclude with the end of the school year. This year, for the first time in seven years, programming continues through the summer.

North Allegheny Senior High School incorporated a spinning wheel into its anti-stigma event.

Pandemic increasing the need for help

Soon after schools closed, Stand Together began hearing from school advisors and students that kids were struggling to cope with stressors related to the pandemic. Symptoms included anxiety and depression from distance learning. Kids had problems structuring their days, a sense of social isolation from friends, and intense fears that parents and grandparents could contract the virus and die.

Stand Together organizers saw the need to address these concerns. They thought the program’s philosophy of students educating their peers could still work as well virtually as it had within school buildings under normal circumstances.

“What we’re hearing from the schools – the principals, Stand Together advisors, the students who participate and students in the general population – is they’re seeing the culture of their schools change,” says Michael Gruber, systems transformation coordinator for Allegheny County Dept of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health.

“They’re telling us that students are more comfortable talking about their mental health challenges,” he says. “They’re reaching out for help more than they have in the past, and the students are telling us their peers are using less stigmatizing language than they did previously.”

Montour High School incorporated a Selfie with a Stranger station to help kids reach out to others they didn’t know well.

One in four kids experiences mental health and substance abuse disorders per year, with just one out of three receiving treatment. The stigma surrounding those issues can cause shame and embarrassment, which prevents kids from reaching out for help. Stand Together student teams work to support kids and help develop coping skills to deal with those stressors.

“Overall, the dialogue about mental illness is becoming a little more open,” says Aveline, who will be a senior at North Allegheny High School this fall. “But there are a lot of misconceptions still going around. In our teenage vernacular, a lot of terms people use might be seen in a negative way. Whenever kids mention they’re having PTSD taking a hard test, of course, I understand they’re joking, but it affects people in real ways.”

The Child Mind Institute estimates that 22.2 percent of children in the United States will have a diagnosable mental illness before they are 18 years old. That figure may rise due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some kids had a hard time coping when schools closed because their eating and wake-and-sleep cycles were disrupted, Gruber says. Other kids did not adapt to online learning and are struggling academically.

As time passes, there may be other unforeseen issues kids will face.

“It’s not only dealing with (the pandemic), but the aftermath of the trauma because of it,” says Danyelle Borish, a recovery specialist and Stand Together project coordinator. “The mental health effects are going to be long term. A lot of places are really having a hard time thinking about and preparing what could potentially be an escalation in requirements for services and people experiencing these things.”

Thomas Jefferson High School’s project used popcorn as a theme in their Pop the Stigma project.

Support, hope and encouragement

Kids in the program are provided with a framework to help their peers with mental health or substance disorders. The acronym S.H.E. stands for Support, Hope and Encouragement, the basic principles of the Stand Together program.

“We stress to the youth that they’re not counselors and we don’t expect them to be,” Borish says. “That’s not their role. But the peer role, and the support of family and friends, is incredibly important to recovery and wellness.”

At West Allegheny High School, for example, Stand Together students recently increased their online presence by creating an Instagram page as a resource for information and to stay connected throughout the summer break.

“We hosted giveaways and gave out lots of resources, especially for people who may be struggling and don’t have a chance to leave their homes and meet their friends,” says Connor, a rising junior at West Allegheny.

Stand Together participants from other school districts are continuing projects online to maintain contact with and encourage support for those in need. A summer initiative also is being planned that will enable students from Stand Together schools to create projects that will be available via social media platforms and school websites for all kids in the region.

“One of the biggest things we hear from the youth that we continue to work with is that connection is so important to them,” Gruber says, “whether it’s their team or the interactions they are providing with their peers.”

One reason the program succeeds is that Stand Together actively recruits students from a variety of groups and organizations within a school. These students may be athletes or musicians or scholars and often serve as a bridge for their peers who need help.

“It’s not uncommon for another student to come up to one of them and say they want to go to the guidance counselor but are afraid to do so, will you go with me,” Gruber says. “So, the Stand Together student will go to the guidance office with them and hand them off to the guidance counselor.”

While Stand Together is an invaluable tool to combat mental health and substance disorder issues, it is also beneficial for the kids who volunteer for the organization. Brendan, the senior from Montour, says his experience with the group not only made him aware of his peers who may be at risk but boosted his own self-esteem.

“I’ve had a hard time standing up for myself at times in the past,” Brendan says. “I’m starting to be more confident with that and standing up for others as well. That’s something I’m definitely going to be using in my life.”

Advice from Stand Together Against the Stigma on how kids can help kids

Stigma toward kids with mental and substance abuse disorders causes them to feel ashamed and embarrassed. Many kids react by withdrawing and isolating themselves. Here’s how kids can help their peers:

  • Treat all people with respect.
  • Encourage friends and family to seek professional help.
  • Combat myths about mental illness by speaking up when you hear them.
  • Include your peers in conversations and other opportunities.
  • Stand by your friends who develop mental issues and substance disorders.
  • Tell an adult when you are concerned about someone.

This story is part of the Kidsburgh Mental Health Series, funded by a grant from the Staunton Farm Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of people who live with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. The Foundation’s vision is to invest in a future where behavioral health is understood, supported, and accepted.

Other stories in the series include the Kidsburgh Mental Health Survey report, insight as to how parents can deal with coronavirus anxiety, and advice on remaining resilient during times that try your family’s mental health. Check out the fascinating look at the teenage brain. Other stories include Anchorpoint Counseling Ministry’s hugely successful fundraiser, the secret to happy, successful kids, looking to Fred Rogers for help talking to kids about life’s most challenging issues, and how practicing mindfulness helps kids ease anxiety.

5 questions for Vincent Folkes, Youth Poet Laureate of Allegheny County — and a poem

Rege Behe
July06/ 2020

As the newly selected Youth Poet Laureate of Allegheny County, Vincent Folkes realizes he has a platform. The 19-year old from Mt. Washington intends to use his status to draw attention to issues that are important to him.

“I want to use the platform to bring to light issues that I don’t think are spoken about enough,” says Vincent of the award sponsored by City of Asylum at Alphabet City as part of the All Pittsburghers are Poets project. Those issues, he says, include “immigrant rights for young people, young black trans youth, and obviously Black Lives Matter. Those are some things for me that I definitely want to use my writing to bring awareness to.”

The awarding panel included Farooq Al-Said (1Hood Media); Bekezela Mguni (Black Unicorn Library & Archive Project); T.J. Hurt (Dreams of Hope); and Jess Gold (Carlow University’s Center for Youth Media Advocacy and Social Justice Institutes). They selected Vincent “for the outstanding musical quality of his writing and the strong connection between the themes in his poetry and his meaningful engagement in social justice efforts in Pittsburgh.”

Vincent is also a musician and songwriter, and studies business at the Community College of Allegheny County. He receives a $500 prize, publication through the National Youth Poet Laureate Network, and an entry into the Northeast Regional Youth Poet Laureate Competition organized by Urban Word.

Here are five thoughts from Vincent about poetry, music and being named Youth Poet Laureate, along with one of his poems.

Kidsburgh: Where do you find inspiration for poems?

Vincent: It can be anything, almost. It’s never super complex. I might be doing something. I might smell something. I might hear something. A lot of times it comes when I hear a song and I just get inspired. Whatever the song is about is not important, but it’s just a vibe, I guess. Anything can get me in my zone. It might start out with one line, or like a feeling because of what I heard. Whatever I listen to, (the poem) can be completely opposite. It can be a love song, and I might write about racism. It doesn’t always correlate.

Kidsburgh: Who were your influences growing up?

Vincent: When I was younger, it was Justin Bieber (laughs). I kind of wanted to sing like him. But as I got older, I started listening to more rap artists like Drake, Nas, Super Hip Hop.

Kidsburgh: You started out writing songs before attempting to write poetry. What’s the difference between writing a poem and writing a song?

Vincent: Songs are really complex, and I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, so I like to know everything before I do something. With poems, all I have do is write them. With songs, there are a bunch of elements. So I kind of find myself naturally writing poems. To me, poems are songs without a beat.

Kidsburgh: How has poetry affected your life?

Vincent: I’ve always been super shy. Poetry brought me out of my shell a little bit more, not music. I was really deep into poetry for years, and actually, now I’m taking music seriously after falling off it after four years in high school.

Kidsburgh: In the last line of your poem “The People,” you write “Your spirit’s waiting for you” after some fairly dark lines. Is that your message of hope?

Vincent: That’s kind of a reflection of who I hope to be. Especially with that last line, it’s tapping into one’s inner self, one’s true form, one’s true nature, to bring happiness, peace and success for ourselves and others. That’s part of my purpose, serving others, and that brings me a lot of peace.

“The People” by Vincent Folkes

I speak for my people

Lord what is evil

If we are but reflections of each other

As a people

Time makes us fearful

We hate to hear that the people

We dehumanize

Are carrying the weight without a payroll

Those with superficial power, they tend to label

Those who really got the power

They know we able

And we capable to shake shit up

So what they do

They kill our spirits

And divide us up

Cis, het, black, white,

Dead men, telling everybody how to live their lives

That ain’t right

But still we rise

From the valley of the white man’s shadow

Why you looking so surprised

Our demise feeds our victory

The struggle takes us higher

Turned the hate to serendipity

Finessing all the lies and deception

Horror and the stress and Internalized isms and phobias that they made lessons

Need you to listen

Everything they say is fact is really fiction

An Illusion meant to dim the light inside

So in conclusion

They can’t tell us who is wrong and who is right

It’s all delusion

It’s a fairytale

I pray you write yo story well

Free yoself from limitation

Dive deep into that wishing well I wish you well

Create some stories only you can tell

You’ll never fail

Your path in life is not written in brail

That silver cell, that they taunt you with is more than jail

You are the earth, the moon, the stars, the universe

Inhale, Exhale

Your spirit’s waiting for you

Common Sense Media: A parent’s ultimate guide to Messenger Kids

Common Sense Media
July03/ 2020

By Caroline Knorr

Facebook’s Messenger Kids is social media for kids who’ve outgrown toy smartphones but aren’t quite ready for the real thing. What they really want is Instagram and Snapchat so they can act just like the big kids. While Messenger Kids can be used safely (parents can see everything kids do, control their settings, and even remotely shut down the app), Facebook does collect user data, and the company clearly has a big stake in training young users for grown-up social media. Learn more about the pros and cons of Messenger Kids to determine whether it’s right for your kid.

What is Messenger Kids? 

Messenger Kids is a free messaging app created by Facebook aimed at kids under 13. It works a lot like regular Facebook Messenger, but parents are the gatekeepers: You manage all the settings (such as notifications) through the Messenger Kids module in your Facebook account. Unlike grown-up Messenger, Kids doesn’t have stories (picture collages uploaded by friends), but it does offer many more photo filters (unicorns, aliens, stinky fish), and it has a few games.

How does Messenger Kids work?

Parents must have their own Facebook account to set up Messenger Kids. Once you download the Messenger Kids app and log in, you can add contacts for your kid through your own account or opt into the Supervised Friending feature, which lets kids choose their own contacts (you still get notified of new contacts your kid adds). Supervised Friending also allows for more visibility within the app to help kids find friends more easily. To create your kid’s profile, you add their name (it can be a nickname), provide an image (which can be anything), and choose whether to add their gender and birth date. Kids can use the app either on their own device or on yours, but remember: If kids use Messenger Kids on your phone, they’ll have access to all the photos and videos on your device.

What can kids do on Messenger Kids? 

Once they have contacts, kids can send text, photos, videos, audio files, and GIFs. They can add filters, similar to Snapchat, and spend lots of time decorating photos and videos, playing with filters, and drawing things to send to friends. They can also create group chats (which you don’t need to approve) and make video calls.

How do I set parental controls on Messenger Kids?

Facebook gives you a Parent Dashboard in your Facebook account (click or tap the Messenger icon and then your kid’s name), where you can view almost everything you want to see (kids can’t delete anything they do, so you have access to all of it), including a list of recent contacts, recent images and videos shared in chats, a chat history, and a list of reported and blocked contacts. You can also enable Sleep mode, which prevents kids from using the app during set times. The Facebook app offers a few more controls in the Dashboard, such as the ability to turn your kid’s online status on and off, than the desktop version.

One thing you have no control over or insight into is video chats. Kids can say or show anything they want to (and you won’t be able to review it), unless you’re around to keep an eye on things.

What age is Messenger Kids OK for?

Though Facebook designed the app for kids age 6–12, based on privacy best practices and overall recommendations for social media use, we’ve rated Facebook Messenger Kids for age 13+ for independent use. But with careful parental setup and oversight — and limited amounts of time spent using it — it can be a fun way for younger kids to connect with family and friends.

Is my kids’ data safe on Messenger Kids? Is mine?

Though there are no ads or purchases, Facebook may send kids surveys to respond to. Facebook’s privacy policy states that it collects and stores the content of the messages sent by kids and also monitors their app usage (like whom they contact most). Exactly what happens to that data and how secure it is is anyone’s guess, as Facebook shares data across its different platforms and says it uses all data, including kids’, to improve its products. In theory, your kids’ data could follow them to Instagram, WhatsApp, and other Facebook products throughout their entire lives. In our official privacy evaluation, Messenger Kids received a warning rating because it doesn’t meet our minimum requirements for privacy and security practices.

Can a stranger contact my kid on Messenger Kids?

It’s unlikely, but it has happened. In 2019, a flaw in the app — which was corrected — allowed kids to join group chats with people who weren’t pre-approved. Just like Facebook, the app’s goal is to connect as many people as possible, and in your dashboard, you’ll see lots of potential friends Facebook offers up for you to connect your kid to (including the names of all your friends who have Messenger Kids accounts for their own kids).

It’s entirely possible you could approve a stranger posing as a kid because you thought it was a friend. There may be other flaws in Facebook’s privacy system that haven’t yet been detected. An update to the app that launched in April 2020 in response to shelter-in-place restrictions offers parents the option to allow adults, such as a teacher or coach, to add your kid to a group, such as a class or club, which might include kids and adults your kid doesn’t know. You can opt into this feature or approve requests on a case-by-case basis.

What are the alternatives to Messenger Kids?

Check out our list of Safe Chat Rooms and Social Sites for Kids to find recommendations for alternatives to Messenger Kids. Some products are more geared toward families staying in touch, and some are more game-oriented. Video-chatting through your device’s built-in system is another option for keeping kids connected.

But before your kids register for any of them, be sure to refer to our social media hub to get answers and recommendations for all your chatting concerns.

Is Messenger Kids safe?

Because parents approve and add all the contacts, it’s relatively low-risk in terms of chatting with strangers or encountering really iffy content.

Some of the risks are common to all social media. Kids — and their contacts — can take pictures of anything, download photos and videos to their camera roll, and share them, so there’s no guarantee that everything shared will be kid-appropriate or stay inside the app. And, while kids are able to block and report other kids, they can be invited to a group chat that includes a blocked contact (they still can’t communicate one-on-one).

As for whether or not it’s healthy for young kids to use social media, that’s an open question. While you can certainly see its benefit in keeping kids connected to far-flung relatives and friends — especially during extended periods of being home from school — research on how social media affects kids’ mental health is ongoing and inconclusive. Some researchers warn that tween girls in particular are vulnerable to the social comparison that happens on social media and that prolonged use can contribute to anxiety. But if you’re monitoring your kid’s use of Messenger Kids carefully, you may be able to avoid these issues or spot them early.

How can my kid use Messenger Kids safely?

If Messenger Kids is used as training wheels with lots of parent interaction and discussion, there could be some benefit in getting kids ready for the full-fledged social apps. Regular check-ins with your kid on how they’re doing and what their social media interactions are like, as well as observing behavior, can help keep their social media use fun and positive. Finally, if you allow your kid to use Messenger Kids, pay attention to updates to Facebook’s privacy policy. These announcements could mean significant changes to your control over your kid’s use of the app.

Kidsburgh
June09/ 2020

Family discussions on race and racism can begin at a young age and continue through life. Parents are sometimes uncertain about how to get that conversation started. This booklist from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh can help. The titles here explore and celebrate the lives and history of African Americans.

According to research from P.R.I.D.E. (Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education), a program in the Office of Child Development at Pitt’s School of Education, even the littlest kids notice race and make decisions based on race.

The library recommends that parents read a book first, then read together with their kids. A conversation can develop organically from there, talking about the stories and the points they present.

Look to the Carnegie Library for additional booklists for kids, such as one on Racial Identity, Feelings and another on Race and Social Justice Fiction for Teens.

For preschool and kindergarten:

1. Child of the Civil Rights Movement: This moving first-person account will help young children understand this historical era. 

2. Crown: A young boy’s trip to the barbershop provides opportunities to uncover and celebrate self-confidence and joy. 

3. Don’t Touch MHair!: A young girl must defend herself against unwanted, though not obviously hostile, touch.  

4. On the Playground: Our First Talk About Prejudice; On the News: Our First Talk About Tragedy: Titles in this series are aimed at helping parents of young children introduce and explain difficult topics.  

5. What Was the March on Washington?:  This book about the Civil Rights era reminds us that today’s struggles are part of a larger effort to promote equity and respect for all people. 

For grades 1-5:

6. Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship: This book of poems written by two authors, one black and one white, examines the ways that race impacts our lives.  

7. How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture: This book showcases the depth and breadth of the African American experience. 

8. Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness: This story about a White family’s reaction to racist violence offers an opportunity to think about what responses we will choose to make ourselves. 

9. The Undefeated: An inspiring look at African Americans whose triumphs have been hard-won against great odds. 

 For middle school kids:

10. A Good Kind of Trouble: After attending a powerful protest, Shayla starts wearing an armband to school to support the Black Lives Matter movement. When the school gives her an ultimatum, she is forced to choose between her education and her identity.

11. Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary: This photo-essay brings the Civil Rights era to life and shows the ways that kids participated in the efforts to bring about change. 

12. This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work: Learn about social identities, the history of racism and resistance against it, and how you can use your anti-racist lens and voice to move the world toward equity and liberation. 

13. This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality: This story about school integration offers some background to current conflicts and challenges around building racial equity into our system of beliefs and laws.  

14. Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice: Illustrated poems by women reflect the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and from acceptance to speaking out.  

15. We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voice:s What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? Fifty diverse creators lend voice and comfort to young activists.  

For high school kids:

16. The Port Chicago 50 Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights: This book presents an account of the 1944 civil rights protest involving hundreds of African-American Navy servicemen. They were unjustly charged with mutiny for refusing to work in unsafe conditions after the deadly Port Chicago explosion.

17. Take the Mic: Fictional Stories About Everyday Resistance: This anthology features fictional stories and poems that reflect a slice of the varied and limitless ways that young people resist every day.

18. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A history of racist and anti-racist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today, adapted from the National Book Award winnerStamped from the Beginning.”  

19. Slay: An honors student at Jefferson Academy, 17-year-old Keira enjoys developing and playing Slay, a secret,  online role-playing game celebrating black culture, until the two worlds collide. 

As learning innovation grows, a fresh approach to ‘summer melt’ emerges in Pittsburgh

Remake Learning
July01/ 2020

By Melissa Rayworth

A school year like no other has finally ended. Summer is here, offering a much-needed break for students, teachers and parents. And yet as welcome as this school break may be, it’s also the time of year when parents worry about learning loss, also known as “summer melt.”

Research suggests that as much as 25% of the previous year’s material may slowly dissolve under the summer sun, says Dr. Bart Rocco, a former superintendent of the Elizabeth Forward School District and a current Grable Foundation Fellow. After the disrupted spring semester, parents may be especially concerned about summer learning loss this year.

But consider: Innovative approaches to education have begun prioritizing skill development over memorization of content. If the future will require today’s learners to be problem-solvers capable of collaborating and thinking flexibly, summer can be a perfect time to work on those skills.

Build an ecosystem together

We know that students thrive when they have a community of caring adults and peers learning with them. The COVID-19 school disruption has been especially hard on parents who aren’t able to stay home with their kids and don’t have a network of support. This summer could be a time to forge connections that might make that easier — and help kids build skills along the way.

Michelle Thomas, director of programs at the Mentoring Partnership in Pittsburgh, has a neighbor who spends time with her children and teaches them skills like gardening and painting. Parents can try reaching out to trusted friends, relatives and neighbors to see who might spend a bit of time sharing their knowledge safely in person or via video call. It can be a huge help to have “someone for an hour a day to pop in and FaceTime with my kiddos and do an activity with them,” Thomas says. This kind of mentoring reminds a child that they have a supportive community and can introduce them to new skills.

Another option: Have family members read a book together or plan a summer reading challenge to finish several books, says Dr. Bille P. Rondinelli, a Grable Foundation Fellow and former superintendent of the South Fayette School District  A group of siblings or cousins could all read a book, discussing the chapters in a group text or video chat. The group can even add an activity, like cooking a meal that characters in a story might eat or researching a real-world location that the book mentions.

As they collaborate with others, the children will be developing their planning and communication skills.

You can also grow your child’s learning ecosystem via local organizations. Many out-of-school time providers quickly pivoted to virtual programming last spring, says Stephanie Lewis, manager of partnerships and quality improvement at APOST. So they’re likely to be operating this summer with some mix of virtual and in-person services. “Fortunately, we have enough programs within our region that are able to still open their doors and serve a number of students, such as the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCASarah Heinz House and even some of our smaller, neighborhood-based organizations,” Lewis says. “They may not be serving hundreds of students, but they’re still able to serve about 30 to 50 percent of the students that they would have served in a safe, socially distant way.”

In Pittsburgh, Partner4Work’s Learn and Earn summer program is also available for teens this year, though much of it is virtual. Mentoring Partnership executive director Colleen Fedor says many mentoring programs are also operating this summer, despite the challenge of COVID. “Programs are innovating quickly,” Fedor says.

Building stronger remote learning skills

It’s likely that school will include at least some online component this fall and beyond. So consider having kids explore a free resource like Khan Academy this summer. They can fill in missed learning from spring semester and also continue getting comfortable with online learning.

In Pittsburgh, the nonprofit Gwen’s Girls is offering free personal tutoring via Zoom to K-12 students this summer. Many communities around the country may have organizations offering similar services.

Encourage personal projects 

Project-based learning is happening in a growing number of school districts nationwide. During summer break, students can take that work a step further by designing their own projects, says Rondinelli.

“Now is the time to try and fail forward,” she says, so encourage your learners to explore new interests.

With age-appropriate supervision, a student might search online for instructions to build a basic rocket or a mini-volcano that erupts from a mix of baking soda and vinegar. Projects like these build planning skills, bring in a bit of math and science, and fuel curiosity.

Teens could take a coding class or begin learning a new language for free online. And this could be the summer that they really embrace learning about history and social justice in America.

Whatever kind of project they choose, the key is helping them set goals and reminding them that adults really care about their learning, says Kristan Allen, director of marketing and development at the Mentoring Partnership.

“Talking through short-term and long-term goals is a way to not only scenario-plan, but also keep that connection going,” Allen says.

That personal connection might just be the most valuable component this summer.

“Just maintaining those relationships contributes to students learning, their success and also their social-emotional well-being,” says Lewis. “It’s really easy to keep trucking along with our expectations and wanting to meet our goals. But we have to be mindful that we are human first.”

This article is part of a series for ‘Tomorrow’ powered by Remake Learning. From May to October, “Tomorrow” will explore – through virtual events, grantmaking, and storytelling – what we can do today to make tomorrow a more promising place for all learners. Follow along or share your hopes for today’s young people using the hashtag #RemakeTomorrow and tagging @RemakeLearning. Learn more about Remake Learning here. And read more “Tomorrow” articles published on Kidsburgh.