Youth Ambassadors Debunk Pandemic Myths While Connecting Young People With Help
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Credit: Youth Will
Local coronavirus relief efforts have focused on the most vulnerable in San Diego, to make sure they have shelter, food, and access to health care. But young people have also been feeling the impact of the pandemic, and are often left out of relief plans.
So in May, the advocacy group Youth Will launched an ambassador program to reach out to young people during the pandemic, assessing their needs, and connecting them with help.
Since then, they’ve reached out to 25,000 young people across the county — and found they have been struggling to get jobs, housing, and access to financial support programs.
"You have to understand, people that were just starting off their professional careers, they were cut off immediately,” said Joshua Piedra, the Youth Emergency Resources Coordinator at Youth Will. “So automatically we had a bunch of young people who just fell into poverty. Just off the bat, and there’s not much resources out there to support them.
Young people, many of whom are still listed as dependents, have been cut off from direct payments from the federal government during the pandemic. So without jobs, school, or cash assistance, many are facing difficult choices, and don’t know where to turn for help.
“Some people don’t even know the existence [of programs], for instance if we’re talking about Medi-Cal and CalFresh, even if they qualify, they say, ‘I don’t qualify,’ and I’m like well, let’s talk about it and they realize they do, yes you do, and it increases the money in your pocket,” Piedra said.
To get the word out to young people, Youth Will has been hosting a series of virtual Town Halls for high school students and college-aged young people. The focus of Wednesday's town hall was debunking myths about the pandemic, as young people have become the most common carriers of the virus in San Diego county.
“Young people, they don’t think they’re going to get sick. They think, ‘oh I’m young, I’ll be fine. And if I get it, whatever I’ll survive.’ They’re not aware that for a small percentage of young people that get it, they get permanent damage,” Piedra said.
In addition to debunking fake news about the virus, tonight’s town hall will also offer young people census information, and how to register to vote. It will be streamed and archived on Facebook.
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