This report was written by Youth Justice Project inaugural Youth Action Board members, Deja Morgan, Alexi Chacon, and Madison Nardy.
When the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic in March 2020, young people across the country became unemployed, had to adjust to a virtual learning environment, experienced loss, housing insecurity, and more with no clear sign of relief. As stimulus packages, assistance programs, moratoriums, and other pandemic-relief efforts rolled out, the unique needs of young adults were not met. Since young people are not viewed as self-sufficient, independent, or heads of households, relief efforts were not designed to stabilize the individual lives of young people, but rather their families. As such, young people were left to pick up the pieces and navigate the fallout from the pandemic on their own. This report highlights the impact the pandemic has had on youth, and offers solutions for pandemic relief efforts that will better address the needs of young people and create opportunities for youth to return to a better world.
As a young person in general, but especially in pandemic years, trying to reach stability feels like being in a game of Super Mario Bros. Here we are standing over a huge cliff and on the other side we can see stable housing, income, access to food, and healthcare all waiting for us. We are told that all we need to do is jump to get to the other side. But the distance between where we are and where we want to be is much, much farther apart than we have been led to believe. It seems that no matter how high we jump, there is always a greater possibility of falling than reaching the other side. There is an assumption that because we are young, somehow we will have a safety net to catch us if we fall, whether that’s with family, school, or having the “energy” as a young person to persevere and figure it out. But the painful reality is that there are many aspects of young people’s lives that are not taken into consideration, and many young people are navigating the transition without a safety net. What we need, instead of being told to jump higher, are the resources and support to get us across.
We are members of the Youth Action Board at Community Legal Services, a youth-led board that works to improve civil legal experiences and outcomes for Philadelphia’s youth. As young people who have learned how to navigate the many bureaucratic systems young people come into contact with, we aim to bring light to the needs of youth who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can find full coverage of the report, along with other materials from its authors, in Generocity: