New York kids work to emerge from pandemic's dark shadows – Spectrum News

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As New Yorkers of all ages try to recover from the height of the pandemic, one group that continues to face challenges from living in isolation is children and teens. One county is stepping up efforts to try and ease the burden.
Cheyenne Parler was glad to be back in-person with her friends in Girl Scouts. She said spending more than a year away from them here and at school during the height of the pandemic was tough.
“During COVID, it was very weird, doing stuff and having to wear a mask, not communicating with people normally, the way we used to. I’m just glad to be back from that,” Parler said.
Now, more municipalities are expanding services for young people, like in Poughkeepsie, where Karen Williams will serve as Poughkeepsie’s new youth services director. Part of her role will be to help kids catch up on their education and socialization skills.
Right now, she said she’s working on a study to see where kids need the most help. Once that’s completed, she’ll work with nonprofits in the area to help kids, both in and out of school.
“In regards to the education piece, they’re back two years. So someone who’s supposed to be in seventh grade, they’re probably at a fifth-grade level and this is due to the pandemic,” Williams said.
Mental health continues to be a concern.
According to a Yale study that cites statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental health visits to hospitals for kids ages 12 to 17 increased 31% between March and October 2020, compared to the same period the year prior. For kids aged 5 to 11, there was a 24% increase.
Williams said there needs to be action to reverse the trends.
“The trauma from the pandemic, so we have to give it that piece as well," Williams said. "And also, having activities for them to do outdoors as well. So the city has been working on the parks to give them outdoors activities.”
Now a ninth-grader, Parler said her hybrid school year in 2021 helped her get back in a rhythm.
“I feel like I’m prepared for high school because I had that last year of middle school to re-get into order and re-process everything and transition to it being more normal,” she said.


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