When Covid-19 emerged, many kids may have found it initially exciting to have schools shut down, but the thrill did not last long. Growing numbers of children found themselves without physical connection to their important peers, and struggling with anxiety, isolation, loneliness, and depression. While some children have consistent support from responsive parents, others were not so fortunate and live in environments or care that does not meet their needs, and were at risk of developing significant mental health problems. According to Raising Canada 2020 – poor mental health is the 2nd largest threat to Canadian children.
The Frontrunners know how children can quickly become vulnerable with the new stressors that lockdown and social distancing places upon them, so they turned up their superpower of innovation to address the issue and looked for ways to creatively support children and families. They rolled out a new initiative as early as April 2020:
Resiliency Tool Kits: Self-efficacy, purposefulness, creativity and play were primary in the design of this initiative to help children engage and develop in new skills to build resiliency through a sense of ability and control. The result was our new Resiliency Tool Kits targeted for youth 8-14yrs. These kits were created to educate, develop social & emotional skills, and provide tangible support to minimize isolation. Each kit contains activities that the children both use, and build themselves, encouraging their own feeling of efficacy. Our first Stress and Anxiety kit contained:
- Calm Down Bottle
- Worry Monster Box & Journal
- Gratitude journal
- Reading Book
- DIY Diffuser
- Fidgets – Playdough, Bubbles
- Coloring Pencils & Coloring Sheets
- Self-care pouch (personal hygiene)
- Sleep hygiene
- Binder with activities and information sheets for crafts, and games, as well as information for youth, parents/caregivers around specific mental health themes.
This was so successful that three more kits were created with the themes: Growth Mindset & Creating Positive Relationships, and Gratitude.
The team shared the kits with school workers, teachers, counsellors, and agencies that provide services to children.