The closure of Marin and Sonoma schools deeply impacted Side by Side’s YouThrive program. Embedded in middle and high schools, the program works with 12 to 18-year-olds engaged in troubling behavior and engages them in high-impact groups during the school semester to address anger management,
life skills mentoring, gang prevention, and restorative justice.
“Once the shutdown started, we didn’t have time to spare in working with youth,” said program manager Adrian Maldonado. “Being socially isolated could easily throw a wrench in their progress. Virtual groups and phone/text check-ins began right away to stay connected with our young people.”
However, the success of YouThrive depends on rapport between the youth and staff. Virtual groups were awkward at first, both for the youth and for the adults, and attendance was much lower than usual. In addition, there were other serious challenges: access and participation.