Milwaukee Courier: Safe & Sound Continues the Conversation with Local Youth and Community Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

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By Dylan Deprey, Milwaukee Courier

Who hasn’t felt a slight twinge of anxiety over the past two weeks? From the young and healthy, to the elderly and ill, the COVID-19 Pandemic has affected everybody across the world in some way or another.

As youth are out of school, and parents are either working-from-home or out-of-work, social distancing and ever-changing information have become the new norm.

While Milwaukee hunkers down, local organizations are taking it upon themselves to continue to connect their communities.
Safe & Sound is hosting daily online conversations for the youth and community.

As Safe & Sound is normally outside working with the youth, residents, local resources and law enforcement, it adapted to an online approach to continue building safer neighborhoods.

Damien Smith, Safe & Sound youth program manager, said the Youth Program was looking towards online video conferencing early on.

“We needed a plan because a lot of our work was in schools, youth centers, churches, parks and just with people, so it was like, how do we switch lanes?” Smith said. “We had a think tank, and decided to have the youth in an online chat and invited the rest of the community we serve.”

Safe & Sound is hosting video conferences on www.zoom.com and Facebook Live daily from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Smith said the dialogue allows the youth to express their comments and concerns in a structured setting alongside others in Milwaukee.

“We let them guide the conversation, and get their perspective,” he said. “It lets us stay active and connected to people, and also provides some resources.”

Smith invited anybody that’s looking for conversation, information and even a little inspiration to join the chat.

“We were talking about unemployment, open food pantries, and just providing solutions as people have been anxious,” Smith said. “We talked about coping strategies, and being able to stay healthy and maintain mental wellness.”

The group has hosted three sessions so far. Smith said they have been working through a couple technical issues, but the discussion has been beneficial.

“It’s kind of like we’re learning to fly the plane, while we’re already in the air, but we’re working it out. The conversation was good and the young people felt heard,” he said.

Smith also said that they have been working on other ways to keep the community interacting online.

“We were already talking about expanding it,” he said. “In the last chat, we were talking about doing something along the lines of a movie night. So, as a community we’re doing something, even though we’re remote.”