Practicing Leadership is a three-week blog series featuring members of our Youth Advisory Council as well as participants and mentors from the Learning to Lead™ program. The series explores how young women leaders are managing during COVID-19 as they navigate disruption in routine, maintain social connections, and put their leadership into practice at home and in their communities.
Can a mood be captured in one photo? When Jay, a Leaning to Lead™ participant from 2019, submitted a photo along with her responses for this blog series, we felt she captured exactly what we were feeling.
We are weeks into physical distancing without a clear end in sight. Like many, we had initially hoped that our programs and initiatives would be able to resume by May. While we have been able to adapt Learning to Lead™ to an online version, we know that many important, events have been postponed or cancelled.
We wanted to know what significant plans have changed for young leaders. We also wanted to know where their concerns lie, as well as where they are finding examples of hope and joy. The following responses were collected from our Youth Advisory Committee members who span four years of the Learning to Lead™ program.
A change in plans
- A lot of my events have been cancelled so I’ve been trying to focus on activities that I can do around my house instead, including watching TV and reading. I also remind myself that I should not feel bad for being unproductive during this uncertain and stressful time. Alyana, L2L 2018
- My whole Grade 12 year got turned upside down and I am not sure if I will be able to have a graduation ceremony. I am dealing with this situation by reminding myself that I am still proud of all the things I have accomplished and the positive impacts I have made on my school and the student population. Becca, L2L 2019
- I planned to visit various local parks this year before I started my post-secondary education. Due to COVID-19 those plans had to be postponed. It was difficult to adjust to at first because I graduated a year early and wanted to enjoy time-off, but it is best to listen to what the health experts are saying. Manseen, L2L 2019
What’s causing concern
- It can get pretty stressful thinking about how to fix all these chinks in the armor of society that has transformed into gaping holes due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I’ve realized that I have to concentrate on what I can do, individually. I am trying to absorb, the important, real-life lessons from local and global communities. This is a time where you can really feel your power as a single person, with the least effort — just by sitting on the couch at home, you are doing your part to “flatten the curve” and save lives. Mandy, L2L 2017
- I am anxious about how long social distancing will last. I’m lucky that my family is safe and that I can receive distance education, but I’m quite extroverted and maintaining this lifestyle for months on end seems unfathomable. I miss my old life. Malika, L2L 2019
What’s bringing joy and happiness
- In this crazy time I am just happy with everyone coming together no matter what gender, race, colour etc. Many local Sikh temples and organizations in my community are partnering with local restaurants to feed vulnerable people. Manseen, L2L 2019
- Seeing how my community is coming together and helping each other. It’s heartwarming to know that we’re getting through this as a team. Alyana, L2L 2018
- Spending time with my family and using Facetime to virtually hang out with my friends is bringing me happiness. Michelle, L2L 2017
- The 7 PM cheer is very motivating to see! It’s lovely that so many people are showing support for nurses and doctors by participating every day. Romina, L2L 2019
In challenging times, it is leadership that gets us through. Our young leaders are noticing and contributing to acts of leadership, both big and small. Always, they are finding comfort in seeing people come together to provide support to their communities. We hope that their encouragement lifts your spirits as it has ours.
Content for this blog series was collected between April 2 and April 9, 2020. Some responses were edited for clarity and brevity, but core messaging was retained.
Learning to Lead™ is an interactive leadership program for Grade 11 girls. All program costs are covered by donors and sponsors who believe in the leadership potential of youth. We are grateful for the support we have received in 2020 from Shaw, RBC, PwC, FLUOR, Cottonwood Foundation, and many individual donors.