Why Safe Spaces for Children are Important and How We Can Change The Narrative
What are safe spaces? Why do safe spaces matter? How are safe spaces relevant to the global pandemic? And who are safe spaces for?
One can ask when it comes to safe spaces, especially since safe spaces have garnered a controversial name in the media. But safe spaces are meant for all humans to come together and be free from external biases, discrimination, criticism, and judgments.
They are opportunities to promote intentional, transparent communication surrounding issues and topics that make people feel unsafe.
Currently, we live in a time where many feel unsafe, whether that is due to their skin color or sexuality or because of fractured mental health due to isolation. But our new standard cannot be “normalizing” the cracks in our collective narrative. Safe spaces can provide us with an opportunity to facilitate narratives of vulnerable self-expression.
In other words, safe spaces can give us the courage to learn self-care and build resiliency, and I believe this can start with our children.
The Need for Safe Spaces
If you type into google, “young people and mental health,” you will get thousands of results outlining article after article full of heartbreaking statistics.
50% of mental health problems are established by age 14, and 75% of them are established by age 24
10% of children and teens, ages 5-16, have a clinically diagnosable mental health obstacle, but 70% of children and teens do not get beneficial care to help their mental health in a sufficient timeline
3.2% of children, ages 3-17, have diagnosed with depression
Of those 1.9 million kids, 73.8% of them also suffer from anxiety
Unfortunately for our collective narrative, these studies are dated, over 15+ years old, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated mental health battles due to isolation.
Safe spaces provide an escape for children, who suffer in their home lives, allow them to be around like-minded youths, and see the world through a lens other than their parents.
And parents, as hard as it will be to hear this, your depression, anxiety, and mental health — are becoming your child’s mental health.
Break the Stigma
Now is the time to raise awareness on a long-held belief in American society that advocating for your mental health makes you “weak” or “vulnerable” or “too emotional.” We do not have the tools or resources to “go it alone.” If you do not do it for yourself, do it for your child.
Even more so, 2020 has brought unprecedented times of isolation, lack of socialization, feelings of loneliness, and stress.
You are not alone in this struggle.
It is okay to feel overwhelmed and out of control. But we need to be aware of our actions to prevent them from affecting our children. Cultivating the tools and resources to manage being human is a long process. But to raise healthy children is a journey we must embark on.
Our New Normal
Our “new normal” needs to be centered around creating dialogues that help us heal in a post-pandemic world.
Safe spaces allow us to heal, breathe, and be free from the beliefs that keep us stuck. This conversation comes at a crucial moment in our collective history.
Now is the time where safe spaces are needed more than ever. And more importantly, we need to normalize safe spaces.
They no longer need to be limited to college campuses, but safe spaces can be restaurants, coffee shops, or yoga studios.
Yoga is a beautiful tool that helps you in the face of discomfort, learn from perceived failure, and approach new experiences with confidence. These benefits are scientifically proven to help humans of all ages improve their physical and mental health. A growing body of research reveals that yoga can improve a child’s focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior.
This will inevitably lower their stress and anxiety, allowing them to be who they are, kids.
How WE Can Help
The Sanford Yoga & Community Center is a safe space for our growing community. We are a veteran-owned and trauma-informed yoga center. Our motto, to provide space for you to heal, breathe, and be free.
Outside of our class schedule, which you can find here, we have an LGBTQIA+ hangout on Wednesdays at 4 PM, which provides space for queer youth and allies to cultivate authentic self-expression. We also have a kids yoga class on Thursdays from 5-5:45 PM, which allows your kids to release built-up energy and experience the benefits of yoga.
To create a narrative that silences ignorance we must ALL feel comfortable learning our truth and standing in that.
Safe spaces facilitate discussions rooted in growth, resiliency, and self-care. This is why they benefit everyone, no matter your sexual orientation, skin color, gender, or other identifiers.
Together we will build a brighter future.
By Lee Mowery, a practitioner of yoga, life, and a yoga teacher at Sanford Yoga and Community Center. He believes that if we understand our innate connection to one another we can foster an air of incredible change. One that cultivates Love, Compassion, and Joy.