Dear Generation Z,
As an organization that serves youth, we’ve been finding out what trends and research say about your generation. We’re exploring what it takes to guide you towards making an impact and leading a life of purpose. We’re discovering the skills and talents you possess as a cohort coming of age in this unique point in time.
Suddenly we have hit a moment of great magnitude in your story: The Global Coronavirus Pandemic. It is likely your quarantine and home-schooling will be imprinted in your memory forever. It is also likely that what we learn from this experience will change some of our collective perspectives and attitudes going forward.
These are already formative years for you, so how can we take this unprecedented time and shape it into something optimistic and empowering while you navigate this strange reality?
We want to offer some ideas on how you can use your strengths as a generation to help amidst the pandemic. Consider a few characteristics about Gen Z culled from Growing Leaders, a leadership think tank for youth founded by Tim Elmore. With this concoction of traits, you are in a unique position to create solutions for pressing issues brought on by Coronavirus, and we’re here to support your efforts.
"You're in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that's enough." -The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
How can YOU get involved?
You are Tech Savvy - It is suggested that FOMO has also morphed into FOLO (Fear Of Life Offline). If part of your identity is connected to your network online, consider how you can use it to crowdsource solutions. Take, for example, our local Ronald McDonald House annual Walk for Kids to support children undergoing serious medical treatments. Because of social distancing you can register or donate this year as a virtual walker. Or, use your desire for connectedness to explore other options for socializing. One SoCal organization is seeking volunteers for a good-old-fashioned phone tree and asking people to simply call and check in on vulnerable individuals during this time of isolation.
You are Activated - This new generation is turning out to be full of activists who want to be seen supporting their cause rather than simply relying on words to project their message. Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old climate activist, is a quintessential example, sparking the #FridaysforFuture school strikes for climate change. She has moved the Climate Strike to a virtual one due to Coronavirus. While the world is online instead of out in the streets you have a captive audience. What would you like to say?
You are Redemptive - Gen Z is aware and inclusive of all identities and you care about equity. In light of the pandemic, you might consider how this experience will effect different identities. Who is vulnerable and who is disadvantaged by the virus itself or the societal changes that have ensued? If you are not in an at-risk group, how can you support the ones who are? If your community is at greater risk of negative effects, how can you tell your story and advocate your needs to others? There will be many marginalized communities that can use targeted support. One group of high school students in Santa Barbara, for example, developed a local initiative called Zoomers to Boomers to help Seniors who are self-isolating with their grocery delivery for no cost. Another SoCal organization, Miry’s List, has identified a list of essential items that newly settling refugee families need to be able to safely isolate at home. Or, use Teaching Tolerance’s “Speak Up” strategies “to let people know you’re not OK with racist or xenophobic comments about coronavirus or anything else.”
You are Entrepreneurial - Gen Zers choose not to live in someone else’s shadow or story. They would rather create their own path. Oftentimes, this is related to job prospects- they might prefer to develop their own career than subscribe to one already in existence. So, why not apply this same philosophy towards your coronavirus social impact, too? Take some time to learn about what is already being done and support those efforts if you are inclined. But, if you still sense a void or notice an unfulfilled need, make it your calling and enlist others to help. A great place to start sourcing ideas is from the comments section of this article in Yes!, a news source that focuses on uplifting current events. They’ve asked people to share ways communities are lifting each other up despite the distancing. Or, try the newly created karunavirus.org (karuna in Sanskrit is compassion). Inspiring examples are popping up everywhere that might spark your own creative ideas.
This will probably remain an important moment in time for Generation Z. A note from the director of Miry’s List (mentioned above) says it all, “Turn this moment into momentum.” Here’s your opportunity to heed the call and make an impact amidst this global challenge. Use what you’re good at to spread hope and help. You are a new breed. You are “Quaran-teens” and you have what it takes to make a difference.