The below is a guest blog by Madison, a QFCC Youth Champion 

COVID-19, the word on everyone’s mind and dominating news feeds around the world. This epidemic has brought the world, as we know it, to a grinding holt and is a defining moment in our recent history. So, what exactly is COVID-19 and why do we need to distance ourselves from one another? Put simply, COVID-19 is a disease that has been caused by a mutating germ and is spread easily from person to person. COVID-19 primarily infects our respiratory system and can pass from one person to the next through tiny droplets, when someone coughs or sneezes. It is really important to maintain our distance from others as we may be carriers of the disease, and be asymptomatic, but we may infect someone who is more vulnerable to the disease – such as those with pre-existing conditions or the elderly. So, to help slow the spread and protect one another, it is important that we stay home as much as we can and remember to show compassion and understanding during this unprecedented time.

It is important to recognise that COVID-19 doesn’t have to be overwhelming or entirely negative, there are stories of hope and positivity emerging through this crisis. I really admire the unique ways people are finding to look out for another and to help make the most of this time in lockdown. For myself, this experience has highlighted how easy it is to take our everyday routines for granted and I am viewing this time as an opportunity to refocus, connect and reprioritise for the year ahead. It is really easy as young people to get caught up in the rigour of our everyday lives, from school to work, extracurricular and after school activities. This time might be the perfect opportunity to read that book you had been meaning to, to challenge yourself to pick up a new skill or try a new language, to host a virtual cooking class with family and friends or to undergo some spring cleaning. To help cope during this prolonged period of isolation, it is also important to try and stick to a routine, take time out of the day for yourself, and remember that it is okay if some days you are only able to achieve one item off your to-do list.

One concern I know a lot of working-age young people have shared is around the financial instability they are experiencing, due to having lost their casual work, and the uncertainty around when work may become available to continue to support themselves. This is absolutely a challenging time, but there are some great resources available to engage with that are low-cost and can help to keep your resume up to date. Some of these resources include:

  • Google Digital Garage – A free training platform that assists in the development of digital skills
  • Code Academy – A free tool to help learn computer programming, web development and design
  • LinkedIn Learning – A subscription-based service that offers a variety of professional development courses, ranging from beginner to in-depth training. If you are attending university, you may be able to access the subscription service for free, so make sure to check with your university for the details
  • Alison – One of the world’s largest free learning platforms for education and skills training, offering a variety of courses and catering to numerous skill levels
  • InsideSherpa – A platform offering free virtual work experience programs across a variety of disciplines

If you are looking for ways to support those around you, there are some great initiatives emerging too. One in particular is the Care Army, which is a support service for the elderly and vulnerable members of our community, that has been set up by the Queensland State Government. This is a meaningful way to give back and help to show the Queensland spirit, so if you are interested and able to assist, please contact 1800 173 349 for further details.  A really fun way to connect with members of your local community and neighbourhood is through the teddy bear hunt. This great idea takes after the classic children’s book ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ and involves placing teddy bears in windows and around the outside of your house. If you haven’t already added your bears to the street, make sure you do and maybe go for an explore in your street (keeping in mind the social distancing rules of course), to see if you can find some more!

Another great suggestion to help pass the time and to give back to those who continue to provide essential services to us all, is to write thank you notes and share your gratitude for their ongoing efforts. This could be as simple as including a small thank you note on your mailbox, leaving a note near your door for the grocery delivery crew or showing your appreciation to your teachers during your online classes. These are the moments that help to define our community spirit and together we can all make a positive impact on those around us. 

Finally, I wanted to remind us all that although we are practicing physical distancing, we can remain socially connected with one another. We are so lucky to live in a time full of online platforms that allow us to check-in with friends and family and remain connected. It’s really important, now more than ever, that we prioritise checking in with those close to us and taking time out to look after our own wellbeing. One great resource to help you keep on track of your wellbeing is the coping calendar from actionforhappiness.org.

It’s times like these that remind us of what is most important in life and from all of us at the Youth Advisory Council, we hope you are staying safe and connected.