YMCA Winter 2020 | Page 16

Why Nicole, 25 ensured her community stayed strong during COVID-19 FEATURE ARTICLE WINTER 2020 One word: community. I have worked with large groups of people in every job I’ve pursued in my adult life, so community is a concept that is pretty familiar to me. But never have I been more conscious of the monumental impact of community than over the past two months. There is currently so much uncertainty arising in every aspect of my life, and whilst I consider myself a problemsolver, news that I along with over 5,000 staff at the Y, were sadly being stood down in March, left me asking more questions than I could soundly figure out the answers to. Despite this, the one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted desperately to keep constant my connection to community. In my final two days of work before my stand down period began, my colleague and I worked tirelessly to create a calendar of initiatives to run every weekday for three weeks straight, all events with very specific focuses on promoting connectedness, wellness and introspection for our volunteers. Through developing these initiatives, my colleague and I came to a similar realisation; that regardless of whether we were working or not, the community we are a part of deserves to be nurtured wholeheartedly in every circumstance, regardless of how out-of-our-control circumstances may seem. It has been so beautiful watching the young people get around the initiatives we created over the past week. We saw volunteers run a number of initiatives including cooking classes, selfdiscovery sessions, online gaming tournaments, breakfast clubs, and yoga classes. Now, as each week draws to a close, I have a number of volunteers who reach out, wanting to run new initiatives to contribute to their community even further and build on that point of connection. I feel so grateful for the position I am in, working closely with volunteers whose nature it is to give, no matter what. There is so much uncertainty and uneasiness everywhere at the moment, but to know that my community cannot falter in the face of change brings me so much hope. My spirit has been completely lifted, watching the impact that a point of connection can create for people and MY COMMUNITY IS SEWN TOGETHER BY A LARGE GROUP OF INSPIRED YOUNG PEOPLE how this can cause a ripple effect on motivation and action. Whilst many questions still remain unanswered, the one thing I know for sure is that my community is sewn together by a large group of inspired young people and we will all carry on with what we have learnt through those programs to create that same sense of acceptance, care and hope in whatever space needs it most. An illustration by Nicole during one of her online illustration tutorials for young people p 16 YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE