Whidbey Community Foundation recently announced its next phase of funding from the COVID-19 Community Resilience Fund.
The foundation awarded grants totaling $60,000 to all three school districts on Whidbey Island to support students, educators and their families with mental health needs.
“Stress and anxiety are at a high in our society due to the pandemic. The mental health of our youth is very fragile right now,” said program director Jessie Gunn.
“Kids of all ages have been affected by COVID,” Gunn said. “Our community partners, such as the Sno-Isle Libraries Issues that Matter series, have highlighted that remote schooling, isolation from friends and family, and fears of illness are all contributing to our students’ collective anxiety.”
School district leaders on the island have emphasized that mental health has been a crisis for years, and the pandemic has exacerbated existing issues. School is often the only consistent place for students to receive much-needed care, including mental health services.
Funds to Oak Harbor School District will be used to provide free summer activities for all students, including programs in physical activity, social-emotional wellness, and arts and academics.
The purpose of the services will be to help students begin to heal from the trauma of the pandemic and begin to rebuild relationships and restore their emotional well-being.
Coupeville School District will use the funds to help hire a social worker for the district. The position will help with enrichment, re-engagement and mental health needs for all students in the district, and fill the gap from having recently lost its funded Mental Health Therapist.
South Whidbey School District is working closely with Readiness to Learn to employ a Youth Engagement Specialist. This position is designed to connect students to opportunities that promote re-engagement within the community and at school as an antidote to the impacts of pandemic.