Each day at 2:30pm, Governor Pritzer holds a press conference. If you haven’t watched one, he offers updates on what is happening, educates the residents of Illinois on what they can do to help and brings in a multitude of other professionals to share insights and education. Yesterday, he took the time to share this special message with teens.
“I want to end with a message for our students who I know never envisioned a pandemic derailing their spring semester. Believe me, as a parent of two teenagers, you’re not the only one. I won’t try and tell you that texting and calling each other is the same as hanging out in the hallways or in the lunch room, and I won’t try and tell you that a Zoom prom is the same as a real prom. I won’t try and tell you not to be sad about the lost goals and plans that you may have had for March and April. It’s okay to be sad and if you do feel sad or frustrated or angry, whatever you feel, please let yourself feel that way. Don’t beat yourself up over being human. And if you’re experiencing overwhelming anxiety or you have a friend who is and you need someone to talk to, there are resources available to you by phone and online through both ISBE and our Department of Human Services as well as the city of Chicago.
But I also want to say something else. Once you’re ready, take a look around. Take in the incredibly unique moment that you’re living in. Yes, it’s scary and it’s uncertain and it’s difficult, but if you’re looking for a lesson in the fundamental goodness of people and of your community, it’s right there in front of you. Take a look at the districts across the state that have taken it upon themselves to support our healthcare workers, like Tinley Park High School’s science department delivering goggles to Advocate Health’s Christ Medical Center, or Decatur Public Schools donating over 200 iPads to promote contactless communication at area hospitals. Maybe those are your teachers and administrators, or maybe your school is one of the many that have made donations. Even if it’s not, I bet people in your school are finding a way to help. Be one of those people.
Or look at Michael Arundel, an Orland Park native home from college while classes are out at the University of Alabama where he’s studying to go to medical school someday. He came home and he saw a need where his elderly relatives and neighbors were afraid to go to the grocery store, so he filled that need by creating Leave It To Us, his free service to go grocery shopping for senior citizens. Orders took off and his network of mostly college aged volunteers is now launching service in five other states nationwide. Michael, thank you for your movement, the movement that you have started. All of Illinois is proud of you. And I want to encourage our elderly Chicagoland residents as well as healthy young people across the state looking to join Michael and start a local branch of their own to visit his website. It’s at covidseniorshoppers.com, covidseniorshoppers.com.
And most of all, look at the people who make up our healthcare workforce, our doctors, our physicians assistants, our nurses, our nurse practitioners, yes, but also our hospital social workers, EMTs, pharmacists, our ER technicians, registration staffers, sanitation services, and the food service workers who keep patients fed. Maybe you call one of those people a parent, a sibling, a cousin, a friend. Maybe someday that’ll be you. I can tell you that they didn’t join this profession looking to fight a pandemic. They wanted to help people, to live a life of service. And they’re doing that still, even though they share the fear and uncertainty that we all do.
No, it’s not the school year you bargained for and I’m terribly sorry for that. But amidst these dire circumstances, I want you to know that there are plenty of people to learn from. There’s plenty of reason to hope. And if all else fails, I’ve heard that Where’s Lightfoot meme page is a good place to go for a laugh. So thank you.”
We are working to get Governor Pritzker’s message out to teens through our Always Unstoppable social media but are aware many students may not see it. You are encouraged to share his words and direct your teen to http://alwaysunstoppable.org/ . Here, your teen will find tips, education, and links to resources in our community as well as to our Always Unstoppable social media pages.