Normally, going back to school is a time of excitement and anticipation, with a little anxiety mixed in. But after more than five months of being away from classroom learning, local students and parents were facing a major transition in an unfamiliar scenario that added to their worry and uncertainty.
Many youth had spent their summer distanced from their friends and peers, and Strathcona County wanted to create a safe, celebratory event where local youth and teens could reconnect, share their talents, hang out with friends and just relax.
Family and Community Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Strathcona County Library, the Boys and Girls Club of Strathcona County and Recreation, Parks and Culturebanded together to do just that. A couple of weeks before school started, the committee hosted an outdoor, in-person event for youth while meeting health and provincial COVID-19 guidelines. An art contest and concert pre-show gave youth the opportunity to share their talents in art and music, and a safe gathering space helped youth reconnect with each other. After the pre-show, snacks were provided by a local up-and-coming food vendor, and youth watched a big screen showing of The Princess Bride.
The organizing committee was also able to provide attendees with information and resources about youth-focused local organizations, mental health and well-being, essential tools to help them cope with the challenges of COVID-19 as well as the typical challenges of school and relationships.
About 65 youth attended the event, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the relationships and collaboration of Strathcona County’s community partnerships and local vendors.