What we learned from Girls and Gender Fluid Youth of Color at the COVID-19 Response Virtual Town Hall

Dear Crittenton Friends, 

Last Thursday, we co-hosted The COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall for girls and gender fluid youth of color with Black Swan Academy, YWCA National Capital Area and DC Coalition for Girls. We learned so much from Dr. Mariam Savabi, MD MPH and Necole D. Martinez and, especially, all the girls and gender fluid teens who were honest about their challenges and insightful about solutions.  

Our time together was inspiring and informative, yet a reminder that the crisis we face is much graver for it has exposed the fragility of systems that have not worked for decades for the communities in which we serve. Though local governments and schools have responded as best as they are able, this pandemic is devastating to vulnerable families. Yesterday we asked the teens “what can we do?” And they answered. 

They shared real mental health challenges: the struggles with self-isolation, of not having a schedule, of worrying about their parents, their community and missing the comfort of predictable routines.  

They shared frustration with school: the challenges of dealing with uneven expectations and access to technology and teachers, of balancing school with new home responsibilities. 

They shared their solutions: including the need for access to masks, hygiene and required products; of safe housing for community members who need to be quarantined and also for the homeless. They had ideas of how the government can be responsive, of how caring adults can encourage, how parents can access resources, of how together, we can create a community of care. And in their telling they showed us a way forward, a way we can work together to connect, encourage and grow these next generations of people. 

At Crittenton we see a way forward. Core to our success is a caring adult providing judgement-free support, information, recommendations and referrals. While this has been essential to program delivery it is proving to be vital to responding to the current crisis. As have partnerships. We have an opportunity to work together, activating on Black Swan Academy’s call to action by signing the survey. LINK HERE http://thepeoplesdemandsdc.com/ 

At Crittenton we will continue to support girls in group and individually, make referrals and recommendations to the resources they need. We will test the idea of a senior-only group to address some of the real loss seniors are feeling as their graduations are canceled and colleges possibly postponed. We will continue to collect data on the individual and collective needs of 600 girls with a focus on their safety and mental well being. And we will continue to connect with incredible partners like you.  

I look forward to connecting with many of you in the days and weeks to come as we navigate the unknown change and if we are persistent (and a little lucky), real opportunities to create real change for girls of color in the DMV. 

With gratitude,

Siobhan Davenport

President & CEO

PS: Check out our Virtual Town Hall and hear for yourself the challenges girls and gender fluid youth of color are facing by listening to the recording HERE. (Access Password is L8^&11.7)

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