How COVID-19 changed my perspective on school and extracurricular programs
By Emma Wymore
We’re in a weird time right now; we’ve all had to change our lives to some extent. As a 16-year-old student at BASIS Prescott and a member of The Launch Pad Teen Center’s Teen Advisory Council (TAC), I want to share how COVID has changed the way I feel about school and The Launch Pad, a youth-centered space driven to empower teens to become engaged members of our community.
Things got serious in March when the Coronavirus, which we all believed existed only overseas, came to Arizona. I continued to live normally until the end of Spring Break when my mom got news from Japan that her dad passed away. She immediately booked a plane ticket to organize a funeral and see her family. If that wasn’t stressful enough, we were concerned that her travel back home to us would be restricted. Another stress factor was deciphering what school would look like as COVID became more of a problem.
The Launch Pad and TAC (which runs youth-led educational campaigns for teens and works to make a difference in Yavapai County) continued to meet up virtually, and we started offering Zoom programs and campaigns for local teens. Seeing my fellow TAC members’ faces every week on Zoom helped to keep some normalcy.
April was mostly chaos. I was “socially distancing” and feeling more isolated and anxious as COVID evolved. TAC continued weekly Zoom meetings and brainstormed ideas to help our peers cope with the quarantine. We hosted Zoom calls where people could discuss their feelings and share ideas about how to approach schoolwork. We delivered care packages to families, which helped with my general feeling of helplessness.
Now, as the start of the new school year approaches, the prospect of not going back to our physical schools is still in question. The anxiety about the “new normal” hasn’t gone away, and a lot of teens still feel powerless. What we have learned, however, is that we value school, extracurricular activities, and friendship more than we ever thought we did.
No matter what unfolds with COVID, The Launch Pad will continue to offer, either in person or on Zoom, resources, and events to improve teens’ mental health, support them in school, and build community, even when it seems most difficult.
Personally, being part of The Launch Pad’s TAC helps me feel like I’m making a difference. The Launch Pad offers empowerment and leadership programs for teens who want to make a difference and academic mentorship for teens struggling with school. In a time where teens feel pretty helpless because we’re held back by our age to vote or get certain jobs, we have to remember that we aren’t held back to make a difference. Each of us has unique talents and strengths which programs like TAC need to make a difference in the community. I urge any fellow teen who needs an outlet, to get in contact with The Launch Pad.
The Launch Pad Teen Center is at 302 Grove Ave. in Prescott. Visit www.thelaunchpadteencenter.org or call 928.227.0758.