Even though schools are closed for the rest of the academic year because of COVID-19, local youth-serving agencies are determined to bring a little #chathamspirit to students stuck in …
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Even though schools are closed for the rest of the academic year because of COVID-19, local youth-serving agencies are determined to bring a little #chathamspirit to students stuck in isolation.
The Chatham County Health Alliance, along with other organizations from across the county, have initiated a social media campaign — using the hashtag #chathamspirit — to promote morale and raise spirits for students who are finishing school from home.
“I can’t imagine being in school right now — a high schooler or middle schooler who now has to stay home, not see friends and finish out the school year in a very different and challenging way,” said Julie Wilkerson, coordinator for the Chatham Health Alliance.
The Health Alliance has created subcommittees based on the county’s 2018 community health assessment. One of these subcommittees, which focuses on poverty, contains the education working group where representatives from these youth organizations have been discussing a way to help.
“It was from our youth serving organizations that we saw the other negative impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the youth,” Wilkerson said, “and we see this as a way to keep them engaged and show them that they are still being thought about and considered when we’re doing programs.”
Sara Martin, program specialist for Insight Human Services and a member of the education working group, said, “We wanted to provide support connecting to services, but we also wanted to have something fun for them to engage in.”
The social media campaign is similar to a spirit week with new themes each week.
“We have them post on Facebook, on Twitter or on Instagram with the overall theme hashtag, which is #chathamspirit, and then each week has a different hashtag theme,” Martin said. “So we search the hashtags to see what the submissions have been.”
Submissions judged most creative will receive prizes such as gift cards to local coffee shops.
The campaign is in its fourth week. This week’s theme is #crazyhairday; previous themes were #stillcelebrating, #creativespirit and #pajamaweek.
The organizations have promoting this initiative through their respective social media accounts.
“I hope to see a lot of participation,” Wilkerson said. “I hope it’s a way of building some of that social connectiveness that I think a lot of us are feeling like we’re missing. I would love to see this build the youth voice into the initiatives the alliance does. All of our initiatives affect the Chatham community and we would love voices to be heard equitably.”
Martin also echoed that the priority was elevating the youth’s voice.
“As a working group, one of our goals is to have youth more involved in leadership and have them be engaged more so this is one way we can begin to do that,” she said.
Following the academic calendar, the campaign will continue through the second week of June.
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