This article by Executive Director Casey Caster appeared in TYC’s Youth + You email newsletter.
A few weekends ago, as my family bounced between social obligations, weekend chores, and a round of COVID testing to confirm we avoided the latest surge in cases, my 4-year-old peered up at me and said, “Mom, take a rainbow breath.”
Puzzled, I asked how.
Stretching her arms wide, she drew a long, slow breath, circling her arms above until her palms met overhead. Exhaling, she let them to float down in an exaggerated arc. By the time I took my rainbow breath, she was in the other room feeding a leftover peanut butter sandwich to the dog.
In the weeks since, news headlines blasted the tragic loss of young lives inside a Texas school building and its fallout. Trying to process the debates and discussions, I’ve returned to that advice—a simple self-regulation strategy passed down by a preschooler from a local YMCA teacher who probably had no idea of its impact. (Most days, I’m sure the teachers question whether my daughter listens at all.)
And that’s the thing: each of us who interacts with a child at some point in our day has an opportunity to support and empower that child. We may not notice, but they’re watching, listening and mimicking how the adults around them react and interact during times of stress and adversity.
Undoubtedly, professional mental health support for youth is crucial and under-capacity. The work of The Youth Council’s clinicians and professionals is changing lives even as I write this. This school year, we’ve added two additional school-based Student Assistance Program counselors to serve Nashua’s middle schools and provided social-emotional programming and group counseling for nearly 100 students at the Nashua School District’s new Project Succeed alternative suspension program housed at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua.
At TYC, we also view parents, caregivers and others who work with children in our community as critical pieces in the puzzle to supporting youth mental health. This month’s newsletter includes resources to help you have age-appropriate conversations about tragedies such as the recent mass shootings, a link to the Trevor Project to share this Pride Month with LGBTQIA+ youth and youth allies, and information about summer youth support groups being held here at our office.
As the staff and board here spend time this summer reflecting on the 2021-22 school year, I’m certain one of the themes that will emerge is gratitude: for our community partners, our supporters and all the parents, caregivers, teachers, administrators doing their best for youth in our community. Thank you for being here with us.
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