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Being Creative And Building Resilience To Help Children As The Pandemic Lingers

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Nationwide Children's Hospital
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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a new survey out of Columbus finds many parents are struggling to maintain a positive outlook and remain concerned about the effects on their children's mental health.

The Nationwide Children’s Hospital survey found two-thirds of parents worry the effects of the pandemic on their children’s mental health will be more challenging to recover from the longer it continues. The survey also found nearly three in five parents are running out of ways to keep their kids positive. Dr. Parker Huston, a psychologist at the hospital and father of two, counsels families about coping with stress and building resilience.

"As parents, I think it’s on us to be a little bit creative this year, thinking through what are some activities and ways they can stay connected and get their energy out this winter," Dr. Huston said. "They are constantly changing and adapting to new things and learning new things. The biggest thing they probably react to is how adults in their lives are responding. Resilience is a big term but really when you break it down, it's our ability to adapt to difficult changes in our lives. We all have to do that at various times. It just happens that right now is a prolonged period of that for pretty much everybody across the country."  

Huston suggests adjusting the home environment to create as much structure and normalcy as possible, with separate spaces for learning, alone time and play. Huston recommends writing and art projects and allowing kids to FaceTime their friends. There's also the lost art of reading. Columbus Metropolitan Library just launched the third year of its Winter Reading Challenge, which aims to keep reading skills strong when students are out of school for the holidays. Comic book writer and Columbus resident Grace Ellis helped kick off the latest challenge encouraging young writers and readers to follow their inspiration.

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Grace Ellis, the creator of the Lumberjanes series, helps kick off the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Winter Reading Challenge with a free virtual author talk.

"All you really need to write is a pen and paper," Ellis said. "All you need to draw is a pen and paper and time to practice doing those things. Every book you see on the shelf has involved a whole team of people. Almost no book is just one person. You could be a person on one of those teams. It's all about bringing out the best in other people and working together to make something; to put something new into the world, something good that wasn't there before that you wish had been."

The Winter Reading Challenge will be all-virtual due to the pandemic, as the 23 CML locations are open for Curbside and Walk-Up services only. Activities for this edition include reading a cookbook and making one of the recipes, or creating a playlist for the book that's read. Students can register online at columbuslibrary.org. K-6 teachers can now enroll their entire classrooms in the program too. Additional assistance for parents to help themselves and their kids stay positive and engaged during the pandemic can be found at OnOurSleeves.org.

Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. He earned Broadcasting and Journalism degrees from the University of Florida.