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Forum will allow youth to discuss mental health during pandemic

kidspeak mental health.jpg
Posted at 11:16 AM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 15:44:52-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Mayor’s Youth Council with Our Community’s Children will host on Friday a forum for young people to speak to elected officials and community leaders.

KidSpeak 2021: Beyond the Virus will be held at 10 a.m.

This two-hour event is a partnership with Michigan’s Children, the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Public Schools, according to a news release Wednesday.

During this year’s event, youth will give testimony about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their mental health now and into the future.

It will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

“As teenagers and pre-teens in the COVID-19 era, we have spent more time consuming possibly harmful media without the willpower or support to think critically about things being portrayed,” said Taylor Pierce, a 9th-grade student at City High Middle School and KidSpeak 2021 participant. “These ideals are bad for our mental health, which subsequently affects our physical health.”

Shannon L. Harris, interim executive director of Our Community’s Children, said that while this is the first time in 20 years that KidSpeak will be virtual, this year’s subject is one of the most important topics the forum has embraced.

“We have nearly 20 courageous young people in elementary through high school who will give testimony and offer decision-makers recommendations on ways they should support,” Harris said.

Speakers will also have an opportunity to speak with mental and physical health professionals immediately after the event.