To the editor:
Do we believe that children are our future? This is what it really comes down to in the end. I know that this is an extremely difficult and unprecedented time. I know that decisions have not been made lightly with regard to lockdown status.
The question that needs to be asked is what is our children’s future worth to each and every one of us? I believe that it is the most important piece that needs to be considered in all of this, and should be guiding our decision-making process.
As a mother of four, as well as a health care provider, I have seen the toll that these lockdown measures are taking on our youth.
At every childhood stage of development, social interaction with peers is essential. We are crippling our youth. From the JK student who doesn’t know how to share or interact with other children or self regulate his behaviour, to the young child who is now spending all of their time in front of a screen, and disconnecting with other children, to the adolescent who is suffering with depression, or eating disorders, or addictions, or worse contemplating suicide due to the effects of social isolation. Our kids’ mental health is suffering.
In the last year, in Thunder Bay alone, there has been a huge spike in the number of calls to Crisis Response. The eating disorders clinic has seen a steep increase in referrals into the program, with a backlogged wait list. The adolescent mental health unit at the hospital has been overwhelmed with youths in crisis.
Adolescents with once-bright futures are floundering.
Many parents are seeing their children’s grades declining as they lose the motivation to stay the course. Scholarships are being lost. Intelligent youth are failing in university and college courses as they struggle with online learning. Many of these kids are actually abandoning their dreams, and dropping out of school altogether.
This is having long-term detrimental consequences on the future of our youth. This is permanently changing the trajectory of their lives. We need to sound the alarm bells. Our kids are not OK.
We all know the benefit of sport for our children. Our youth need to get back to sport. It’s about so much more than just the physical aspect of the sport, which in and of itself is important, as we’re seeing the rates of childhood obesity climbing. It’s also about teamwork, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, a sense of belonging, connection, improved sleep and cognitive function, and the list goes on. To many children, their sport is a big part of their identity, and we’ve ripped that away from them.
The benefit to our society from the measures taken to protect our society needs to outweigh the cost. This is not the case.
Our children need to get back to school. Our children need to get back to their sports and extra-curricular activities. Our school boards have done a fantastic job of keeping our kids safe while at school. Let’s continue to wear masks, wash our hands, maintain safe social distancing, and prioritize our teachers for vaccinations. But, please, let’s get back to school and sport. The cost of doing otherwise is just too high a price to pay.