For a community who has experienced such extensive trauma from the tragedy at MSD, the isolation and distancing resulting from the coronavirus pandemic adds an additional layer of losses, including in-person social support, predictability of routine, consistent learning environment, and most importantly, a sense of normalcy that was only just building for so many of our Parkland families. In response, there has been he growth of a strong voice of compassion for the seniors who will not walk at graduation, the students who will miss their prom, and the loss of yearbook signing and other end of the year celebrations that mark the completion of this school year. We asked some Parkland students how we can utilize that strong voice of compassion in ways that are most effective and needed by them. Here are some suggestions they made of how we all can help:
Acknowledge they are going through a HUGE change, and have a right to be sad or upset about not having a “right of passage”. It is important to validate them.
Do a zoom movie night and zoom parties with friends. In a land of social distancing this is the new way to connect, and what better way than to sit and watch a movie while eating popcorn and talking.
Do not take someone's isolating personally, many are feeling confused, most are not knowing if they are starting college in the fall or where they are going, how the future will play out and are very worried about this.
Throw a make your own prom night, or Zoom Prom. Everyone gets to laugh, dress up, and enjoy some music, dancing and have fun!
Can’t do a grad bash? Virtual grad bash with your friends and zoom! Both Universal and Disney have virtual rides at this time, and it can be a lot of fun to be with your friends with no annoying wait times!
Have FUN with graduation. YES it’s virtual, but no one has said you cannot have fun with it, they might have guidelines, but the only rules are your house rules. Talk to your parents and work together on how to make this fun for you and your family.
Find new coping skills or bring out some old ones. Dust off the bicycle you stopped using when you got your drivers license, join in the PU4P 5k, color, dance around the room, draw, swim, walk your dog, or play video games, anything to help pass the time while you are not doing school work!
There are great apps that are out there for meditation and calming, even for fitness. Maybe you have some old ones from years ago or maybe you want to find new ones. Some great ones to get lost in are TikTok (of course), Zen: Meditation & Sleep, Seven-Quick At Home Workouts, Insight Timer, and don’t forget YouTube has live music, new shows and some cool things happening daily by some of your favorite stars, athletes and musicians.
Encourage the senior class to make their mark on the world. Seniors around the country have been doing Zoom events where they are either singing or making zoom videos as a legacy/reminder to let their feelings out and leave their mark on the world as part of this pandemic.
Talk to friends, parents, and siblings about your feelings or talk to a professional if you need more help. There is nothing wrong with needing some support in this time. Remember Eagles Haven is doing online sessions, 211 is open, and professionals are around for you whenever you need!
The pictures people are posting of themselves graduating make some kids feel worse if they didn't even get to take their senior pics.
Avoid giving a false sense of hope about future plans. It will not be back to normal soon.
This has been a lot of togetherness. Give people space, especially with loss of senior privileges.
Be understanding that it can be harder for some people, even those who usually have good eating and exercise habits, to engage in those behaviors right now. Also, give kids a chance to get more sleep and use electronics more with compassion.
PU4P Updates Therapists and Mental Health Practitioners - We are reaching out to you as the board of Professionals United for Parkland. Since the shooting on February 14th, 2018 we have been working hard to support the community together. We need trauma trained therapists to be on our Vetted Therapists List that we provide to organizations and agencies so they may refer individuals and families. The holidays, the trial, and the anniversary are approaching so we will receive more requests for our list. Soon the grant for individual services should be released and we were asked to send the most updated list. We will be able to send your information for referrals through this collaboration. More than anything, we need to have good quality therapists who have trauma training to offer the community. Your commitment to be on the list is to provide two pro-bonos a year. In exchange, you will be on our online directory (soon to be live on the website). In addition, all the community agencies including Children Services Council, United Way, and Eagles Haven have this list. Professionals United for Parkland is hoping we can add more qualified trauma therapists to our vetted list. If you know of anyone you can share this with, please feel free to share with them. Please send your information to firstname.lastname@example.org to begin or update your vetting for the PU4P list. Don't forget to check our Facebook page for the most current events, updates, and information about PU4P! Thank you for your support of PU4P and your dedication to the Parkland community