for teens or those supporting teens.
During this time of quarantine and social distancing, we've had some amazing conversations with all of you out there about how we can best support the adolescents and young adults in our programs. Unfortunately, there aren't many resources for working with and supporting youth right now, so we've decided to pull together advice directly from teens and lessons learned from staff to help us all develop the tools to stay safe, healthy, and connected while separated from one another!
This page includes advice from teens and for teens about coping during COVID-19, from teens for adults about how to best support young people right now, and from adults to other adults who are trying to keep youth engaged in various youth work (coming soon). They deserve our support!
COVID-19 in the Coulee Region: Advice and Insight from PATCH Teen Educators
PATCH Coulee Region Teen Educators
Supporting Young People During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Advice from Teens
PATCH Dane County Teen Educators
Tips from one youth worker to another!
What we've learned so far while working with youth throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Be the one to reach out!
But make sure you can prioritize the conversation with youth when you do. Maybe instead of texting/calling/emailing all youth at once, develop a system where you can check in with a few youth each day, giving them your full attention and energy during that period of time.
Youth DO want your support right now. The way you interact may be different, but helping them stay engaged can create a sense of connection and normalcy. Consider using a question of the week for each young person to respond to, asking them to learn something new and share it with the group, or having them write and share a journal entry with you.
Communicate what is required vs. optional.
Everyone is seeking clarity right now, so the more direct you can be with young people, the better! Similarly, if you pay youth, communicate what is paid and what is social or educational.
Listen to what youth say they need...
And look into how you may be able to help them develop a skill to fill this need, or cope with what’s going on around them. For example, many youth say they are struggling to create their own schedule or maintain a routine. So, consider hosting an optional educational session to guide youth through a related skill-building activity.
Don't make promises you can't keep.
We know you’re busy, so don’t stretch yourself too thin trying to engage youth. Do what you are able to do and provide connections to other support systems where needed. Encourage youth to express what they need. Tell them you will see what you can do, and follow-up as soon as possible!
Laugh with the youth!
Even when you are connecting with young people for formal programmatic purposes, prioritize more time for fun, laughter, and self-care right now. We ALL need it!
We are so thankful to the Teen Educators from PATCH Dane County & PATCH Coulee Region for raising their voices and to the PATCH Youth Advocacy Fellows from across Wisconsin for sharing their own tips and tricks.