The recent presidential election has left many in our country feeling more divided than ever. As kids process what they hear in the news and at home, how can Y staff be sensitive to all points of view and create safe spaces for reflection, sharing, empathy and connection?
Here are a few ways we can support our youth post-election:
- Listen to their concerns. Some children may be dealing with difficult emotions. Without making assumptions, make sure you understand what is concerning them and let them know you are available to talk through these feelings.
- Remind them democracy means we won’t all agree. Help kids understand that — just like a family, a sports team or a classroom — we won’t always agree with one another, but we can choose to be good sports and respect each other’s diverse opinions, knowing that we are stronger together.
- Let them know their voice matters. Remind kids that in the United States, we enjoy freedom of speech and expression. Help them find the confidence to express their opinions and learn how to debate and disagree respectfully.
- Let them know they are safe. There are YMCAs in 10,000 communities across the United States. At every location, Y staff are responsible to protect children from harm. Let kids know that bullying and bigotry of any kind and aimed at any child are not tolerated at the Y.
- Model the Y’s core values. Caring, honesty, respect and responsibility are essential principles that unite us and should always guide our behavior towards one another.
- Encourage kindness. Remind children that we are all responsible for our own actions. Brainstorm ways that we can be kind to one another and encourage kids to put these ideas into action every day.
- Challenge them to be socially responsible. Help children discover social issues that ignite their passion—perhaps child hunger, teen homelessness, the environment or animal welfare—and consider ways that they can volunteer or raise awareness to help address these issues in their community. Find out if your Y offers volunteer activities that kids can participate in, and share these opportunities with children and their families.
Looking for more tips and support?
The Diversity and Inclusion team at YMCA of the USA is committed to supporting Ys and families year-round. Learn more about our work.