Many of our county agencies, schools and community-based organizations are participating in the national 2018 Start With Hello Week, Feb. 5-9, to engage local youth and parents in fighting the devastating and tragic impacts of social isolation among young people across the county.
Here’s how you and your family can help.
Social isolation is the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely or being treated as though you are invisible. These feelings are a major risk factor in young people for a variety of developmental dangers, including substance use, mental illness, gang involvement, academic problems and even suicide.
- Start with Hello! A simple “hello” or a smile can help someone feel included, visible or cared about – it’s also the perfect beginning for introducing yourself to a new friend.
- Share a positive message with someone who appears sad or isolated. Whether it be a post-it on a notebook, a note in a locker, or a post on social media, letting someone know that they matter can turn their day around in a hurry.
- Take Part in the National Start With Hello Week Student Voices Contest. Entries in creative writing, video, music and visual arts are being accepted from across the country (deadline is Feb. 16). Prizes will be awarded to winning entries in the categories of Written, Spoken and Visual submissions.
- Take Part in “No One Eats Alone Day” on Friday, Feb. 9. Lunchtime is the perfect time to meet new people and to invite a “lonesome luncher” to eat with your group. Make Friday, Feb. 9 a day where nobody in your school has to eat alone.
- Be an active participant in school, club, team or other extra-curricular activities. Reaching out to others – particularly when you’re new to the group – can be difficult and intimidating, but it’s the best way to make new friends and stay engaged.
- Enroll your children in free programs at county teen centers and community centers, or in their middle school’s after-school program.
- Encourage your children to pursue his or her interests in a Park Authority class, 4-H club or other school- or community-sponsored club, team or organization.
- Encourage your child’s school, club or community organization to participate in Start With Hello Week.