The coronavirus pandemic has turned social distancing into our norm. But in this time of fear and uncertainty, heartwarming displays of humanity are shining light on our communal roots, reminding us just how essential social connection is to our well-being.
This lesson for middle and high-schoolers engages students in exploring ways to creatively connect, show each other support, and display kindness while prioritizing collective safety–despite our physical distance. We adults (educators or parents) might also want to consider how we can creatively connect.
Examples of Connectivity
Over the past several weeks we’ve witnessed all sorts of public offerings designed to bring people together: virtual parties, celebrations, and DJ sets like the now-infamous club quarantine; artists offering drawing and sketching tutorials; free and donation-based yoga and fitness classes, author read-alouds; Netflix parties; and seniors-only store hours.
We’re being uplifted by our attendance in virtual healing and connection circles and church services, and entertained by community sing-alongs, amusing memes, and choreographed hand-washing and sanitizing videos. Our neighbors are offering grocery store runs, and sewing masks for healthcare workers. And we appear to be swapping out some of our texting for phone and video calls.
What might you be able to offer, which can contribute to not just someone else's well-being, but your own as well?
Respond to the following:
- What have you been missing most since the epidemic began? Work? Social engagements? Exercise or physical care? Habits like shopping, walking through gardens and parks, trying out new restaurants?
- Who have you been thinking about most during this time? And who are you thinking about now who you hadn’t thought of in a while?
- What special talents/gifts do you have that you can utilize to brighten someone’s day? Consider things that people have expressed thanks and appreciation for, or have complimented you on in the past.
- What types of actions and sentiments would you appreciate receiving from others in this moment? What types of outreach, support, connection do/would you value? How can this inform what you might want to do for others?
- What kind things have been done for you since the pandemic began?
Turn thoughts into action
Look over your responses. Have any patterns or themes arisen? From here, create a short list (3 items max) of actions you’re considering for creating joy and social connection.
- In finalizing your decision, consider something that is ideally free to execute, requires little to no material (or uses materials that are easily accessible to you, found in nature, etc.), and minimal preparation.
- Make a list of people you would like to reach out to and/or do something kind for.
- Decide how frequently, and for how many people you can realistically make this happen. Is it one person per week? One per day? Or a few people, one time only? Calendar this, if necessary.
- Execute! Start delivering joy, and be conscious of how it makes you feel. This is as much for your soul as it is for those you’re reaching out to. Our ability to connect keeps us hopeful, productive, and resilient as we work together (in isolation) to end this pandemic.
- Consider, is this something you can continue to execute/deliver once the pandemic has passed? How can you expand on this idea, especially if/when additional resources are made available to you?
- Find ways to journal or document this time, your actions of connectivity, and the responses and impacts on yourself and others. We are living through something historic, and our ability to document and represent our experiences for future generations is powerful beyond measure.