YOUTH VOICES ON COVID19
In April of 2020, as part of our institutional response to COVID19, The Perrin Family Foundation launched a youth communication project intended to capture how young people were experiencing the global crisis. When launching the project, we were keenly aware that young people’s voices and experiences are often left out of public discourse, and on the occasion that they are included, young people’s stories are framed and presented without considering the broader social and political context.
The COVID19 epidemic is a public health concern, but as with all things, it is inextricably connected to other layers of oppression like racism and classism. The narratives young people shared with us in response to the call for submissions were inherently powerful, and often illustrated this reality: youth of color are disproportionately affected by the structural inequity that is in so many ways core to our society. Nowhere is that more evident than in the groundswell of young people leading the charge for racial justice. Across the world, young people are demanding change, and Connecticut is no exception.
In this moment, philanthropy is in a critical position to respond to the broad and ranging needs of the communities that we have determined to serve, however if we endeavor to do so without taking direction from communities and devoid of a structural analysis we will miss the mark, with potentially disastrous consequences.
Knowing that many of the young people most vulnerable to the inequitable impact of COVID19 would not benefit from federal stimulus supports, which did not provide supplements for dependents over 16 or to undocumented families, all young people who made a submission received a stipend. We invited young people to respond to one of these questions:
- What is your new reality now, and how are you facing it?
- What’s one way that young people are being impacted that no one’s talking about?
- How do you think the world will change after COVID19, and what is your vision for the future?
- What’s most challenging for you in the current moment, and what ideas do you have on how to address these issues?
- What does this pandemic reveal about race, class, health, and justice?
Over the next few weeks we will be sharing their truths with you and connecting their stories to one another and to both to larger themes and issues. We are so grateful to all of the young people who participated in this opportunity. From the outset, this project sought not only to elevate young people’s voices, but to help advance critical conversations about the confluence of structural inequities on young people’s reality, and while some youth authors did share about the challenges and struggles of this moment, they also spoke about joy, pride, determination, and resistance. Our hope is that in reading and watching young people’s submissions, you recognize their inherent power, better understand their multifaceted realities, and take actionable steps to ensure that your own efforts to respond to this moment tackles structural inequities and prioritizes young people’s direct engagement and leadership.
To introduce you to the forthcoming series, please read, “Young People’s Voices Are Key to Recovery”, an op-ed by PFF President, Laura McCargar. Scroll down to view the submissions and learn more about the young people who participated in this project.
Who did we hear from?: a snapshot of youth submissions
Over 300 young people responded to our request for submissions, providing PFF with basic demographic data. All young people were allowed to self-identify, particularly with respect to race and ethnicity, so the data presented is using aggregated estimates based on the information that was provided. Watch the slider to learn more about the participants!
In May, PFF President Laura McCargar’s opinion piece in the CT Mirror titled, “Young People’s Voices Are Key to Recovery” was published. In it she argues for the centering of young people as complex, multifaceted stakeholders in the process of rebuilding in midst of COVID19. Click here to read the full article.
As students, parents, teachers, and officials grapple with the impending start of the next school year, we must keep young people’s voices and experiences at the center. As Mercedes MacAlpine, PFF writes in her recent article, “the effects of years of racist housing and educational policies are colliding, and exacerbating, the impact of COVID19 and creating a man-made pandemic in the midst of a viral one. Both the philanthropic and public sector must realize that any solution which falls short of addressing these barriers will fail our young people, and perpetuate harm and systemic neglect. Click here to read the full article.
What Did Young People Say?
Young people shared the various impacts on their mental health and emotional wellbeing that the pandemic has had on them, their peers, and the wider world. They spoke longingly of time with friends and family as one of the things they missed the most, and how restricted movement and a radical changes to their routines had upset their visions for the future. Click here to read the submissions.
Many young people shared about how their identities as immigrants, first-generation, or growing up in multicultural communities provided a both a unique perspective on their mid-pandemic experiences. Young people also spoke about how their immigration status often left them vulnerable and prevented them from having access to the same financial resources as their American-born/identifying peers. Click here to read the submissions.
Race, Class, & Justice
Young people often used intersectional perspectives when discussing their lived experiences. Looking at the overlap of race, socioeconomic, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, and physical ability, submissions explored the impact these identities had on the daily reality of life in the midst of COVID19. Click here to read the submissions.
What DID WE FIND?
85 Willow Street
New Haven, CT 06511