According to Just Say Yes Board Member Marcus Wilson,
“In the spirit of the upcoming holidays, this season is typically a time for people to pause and reflect back on the past year. We can all agree 2020 has been nothing short of life-changing for multiple reasons; a period-in-time that has forever made a lasting impact on history.
“As a teacher at West Dallas Community School and Senior Pastor at West Dallas Community Church, I see first-hand how the people in our community have been affected by this year. More specifically, I have witnessed how our young people are being impacted due to COVID-19. Their lives have been completely disrupted, putting their social-emotional state at-risk. Students are experiencing extreme levels of isolation and loneliness brought on by the pandemic, resulting in extreme levels of anxiety and depression. According to a recent CBS DFW news story, Cook Children’s Medical Center reported, “37 pediatric patients attempted suicide in September, which is the highest intake number since at least 2015. That number represents 37 children admitted and treated after attempting suicide…”
“Also reported in our local news, at a recent Dallas ISD school board meeting, the impact of COVID-19 on students’ grades and performance was described as, “a devastating learning loss,” and, “the worst-case scenario that could’ve happened.”
“These are just some of the many reasons why I recently accepted a position on the Board of Directors for Just Say YES – Youth Equipped to Succeed. Having served as a community partner to the organization over the last 10 years, I have had the opportunity to witness students’ transition from a life of isolation and loneliness, to one of connectedness and new-found confidence.
“Reaching K-12th grade students from all walks of life, Just Say YES provides positive voices and messaging through its programming, ultimately teaching students how to manage their emotions, engage in healthy conflict resolution, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy toward others, establish and maintain positive relationships, the importance of making healthy decisions, all while putting them on a trajectory toward a healthy and successful future.
“In response to COVID-19, Just Say YES has adapted quickly and strategically by transforming 58 of its live in-person motivational experiences (assemblies) and Aim for Success wellness education programs into virtual offerings. Thus far for the 2020-2021 school year, 601 programs have been booked (95 percent of which are live-stream or pre-recorded options). The Just Say YES in-school peer-to-peer mentoring program is also being implemented at seven Dallas-Fort Worth area high schools (totaling eight programs). A Dallas ISD high school principal has expressed the need for two peer-to-peer mentoring programs on his campus, saying, “These [Just Say YES programs] are needed now more than ever.”
“Right now where we are in society, we need hope. Our youth needs hope.
“I want to ask you to join me in giving the gift of hope and connection this holiday season. Donating to Just Say YES means you will make high-impact programs accessible to hundreds of thousands of students in our community; programs that are vital to their mental, social and emotional developmental needs.
“Today’s young people will one day be the leaders of our community. We want to ensure that the light, love, care and concern they deserve will be passed down through the generations to come. Please join me today by making a gift to Just Say YES. Let’s donate and help to further the Just Say YES mission of: Growing value and vision in youth by combating isolation and imparting hope.
* Graphic/photo provided by Just Say YES