New Normal: Building Innovative Ways to Reach Young People Now and After COVID-19

 In Miscellaneous

The time for creativity is now 

Leaders, this is your moment. What the world needs right now are innovative and forward-thinking approaches for connecting with young people. If you haven’t yet realized that more than a band-aid approach is needed to get you through this time of uncertainty, then this quote, from Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota’s former state epidemiologist, should drive the point home: 

“I say straight-faced [that] we will never ever go back to normal. We will have a new normal.” 

Dr. Michael Osterholm

The best responses I’m seeing from leaders are the ones who aren’t waiting for a new normal to emerge; they’re taking control of the situation and building the most innovative, long-term responses they possibly can. 

The stay-at-home orders many of us are under give a small taste of the experience of loneliness and isolation that our research at Springtide has revealed that many young people deal with on a consistent basis, long before Covid-19.  

These experiences should challenge you to provide what young people have always needed, and now more than ever: to be noticed, named and known. Our new report, Belonging: Reconnecting America’s Loneliest Generation lays out how to go about building trusted relationships with young people–providing us all an actionable path forward

There’s no sense in trying to wait this out. We will not be returning to regularly scheduled programming even when this is all over. A new, innovative approach is required to effectively reach young people during this crisis, and it’s the same approach that will be required to reach them after this is over.

You have the opportunity right now to shape the new normal. But you can only do it if you lead with relationships, make sure young people feel connected and cared for, and re-think everything about the ways you’re engaging young people. 

Josh Packard, PhD, is the executive director of Springtide Research Institute and coauthor of  Belonging: Reconnecting America’s Loneliest Generation, available now.

Blog post photo credit: Nikita Kachanovsky

How do we help young people find a place to belong—where they are noticed, named, and known?

Get the new national research report examining the landscape of loneliness specific to 13-to-25-year-olds. Belonging: Reconnecting America’s Loneliest Generation

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