At this time of isolation, stress and fear, we need kindness more than ever. And children, young people and their families are leading the way.
Here, we share some of our favourite ways that young people have stepped up to strengthen their communities during coronavirus.
But first, two quick notes about staying safe:
Firstly, health advice in relation to COVID-19 is evolving, and it’s important to follow up-to-date advice about social distancing and safety. Before reaching out to other people, please check a trustworthy source, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Australian Government Department of Health, or the health authorities in your state or territory.
Secondly, many people are sharing acts of kindness on social media. If you choose to do this, please speak with your children about how you will protect everyone’s privacy – for example, by making sure nothing reveals your location, keeping children’s faces out of pictures, and/or sticking to secure, closed channels with people you know and trust.
Sharing good advice
Young people have been figuring out how to stay healthy and happy at home, and they’ve shared their good ideas around.
When Kids Helpline polled young people about their tips for coping, responses included:
- “Listening to music and writing about the experience of lockdown”
- “Setting goals and also using mindfulness colouring books”
- “Turning off the news”
- “Hanging out with the fam”
- “Time with my dog and cooking”.
Meanwhile, young people from around the world are sharing their stories of isolation via UNICEF, with their tips for coping, including:
- keeping a diary
- playing with pets
- playing music
Educating their communities
Many young people are working to spread facts and combat ignorance about COVID-19, including through:
- social media campaigns sharing scientific knowledge about COVID-19 and countering misinformation and ‘fake news’
- composing and performing musical versions of WHO coronavirus health advice
- creating art, cartoons and photography about rejecting stigma and racism and treating everyone with respect.
Helping people in need
Many children and their families are doing kind things like donating their pocket money to charity, taking care of the garden for a neighbour who’s stuck interstate, or putting out non-perishable groceries in ‘community pantries’ in case someone needs them.
Meanwhile, young people in some of the world’s poorest countries are leading amazing projects, including installing hand-washing stations in neighbourhoods without sanitation, making and giving out hand sanitiser according to the WHO recipe, and distributing essential goods to those in need.
Lifting spirits through art
You might have heard about the ‘bear hunts’, where families display teddy bears in their windows and outside their houses to help people feel more connected to their neighbourhoods.
And there’s the ‘Rainbow Trail’, where kids and adults use colourful chalk to draw pictures, hopscotch and messages of hope and humour on the footpaths outside their homes.
Children have also cheered up neighbours and people in aged care with ‘get well’ cards, signs and flags displayed in windows, and musical concerts from across the street.
Meanwhile, young people have taken part in campaigns like Covid-19 Photos for Teens, which was started by young photographers to encourage each other and share their thoughts during isolation (if your teen is interested in something like this, please have a chat about how they will protect their privacy – for example, by photographing scenery, food, animals or objects, rather than their faces).
Cheering up loved ones
Many children and teens have cheered up the people closest to them with simple gestures, such as:
- encouraging messages and phone calls
- posting positive and funny items on social media
- creating nice pictures or videos to send to relatives
- waving to neighbours and asking from a distance if they are doing OK.
And remember, if someone you know is struggling, please encourage them to seek professional support. They can access free counselling via phone or web from:
- Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
- Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
- Lifeline 131 114