As we are faced with this new normal, our organization went from filling our youth spaces with the chatter and energy of high school students to connecting via Zoom (a virtual communication platform) in a matter of days. Coronavirus (COVID-19) challenged our team in ways we did not expect but we were ready to stay true to our mission of transforming the lives of teens who will change the world. Despite these challenges, I’m happy to report, our students have not missed one scheduled session! This is a big achievement for us because isolating quarantine measures, our youth have been able to stay connected with their Usher’s New Look family.
As we were on a staff call discussing our plans for the upcoming weeks, I began to think about students who don’t have an Usher’s New Look. Students who were told they had completed their last day of school for what could possibly be the remainder of the school year, who will sit home isolated where learning could be on pause.
I pondered many questions related to our young people whose normal lives came to an abrupt halt. What happens when Summer Slide is preceded by the Spring Slump because of a pandemic? Would these students rebound? Would they get connected with an organization like Usher’s New Look that would continue to guide, develop and keep them on the path to success?
We all know there are a certain group of young people who will be fine and will continue to be exposed to learnings that will keep them on track, meet with tutors and other indicia of privilege. But what about those whose socio-economic level won’t allow them access to additional educational support amid this national emergency? I shudder to think what they will be met with when we emerge from this state of emergency and begin to carry on with our lives.
We must all agree to be the guardians of those who will be left behind, taking the actionable steps to give those youth an extra dose of motivation to get back into the rhythm of life and find their way back to their success plan. Usher’s New Look can help mitigate the gap that will inevitably widen, but we need your help. As we come together to fulfill the physical needs of those affected by the state of our world, do not forget organizations like ours that are investing in the educational needs of our future leaders. You can support us by donating or virtual volunteering so that we can continue in our mission of serving our young people. This work does not stop, even in times like these.
Remember, isolation does not mean we lose touch with humanity. Check on the young people in your life. Send them an inspiring YouTube video or a free virtual self-development course. Offer to help review their resume or conduct a mock interview over the phone or FaceTime. There are many ways to engage safely, just find one that suits you so that when we get back to business as usual, our most vulnerable youth won’t be left behind.
Let’s remember that developing our leaders of tomorrow takes a holistic approach. We must invest in their intellectual and emotional needs as well as their physical needs in order to ensure their futures are bright!