Editorial: It’s past time we put our future first
The children are our future the saying goes. So, why does it appear that the children’s mental, emotional and physical health do not matter to those making pandemic-related decisions?
Most parents with children of a grade-school age, maybe even a high school age, will tell you they’re concerned about what the future holds – particularly from a mental and emotional perspective.
From the outset, we were told by health experts the world over that children weren’t in the high-risk COVID group. Yet, the children across Ontario have been the most negatively effected by the pandemic policies in place.
School closures, activities such as sports and arts halted, a general fear of people and death seeping into their collective psyche, confusion, isolation, and other negative occurrences have and continue to pile on.
Talk to parents with a modicum of common sense and they will heartily tell you how happy the kids are to be in school, but then immediately ask if organized activities in sports or the arts will be returning soon.
For the record, many sports organizations are working hard towards returning to play and a giant push is taking place that concerned parents can lend their name to. Read more on this at https://muskokaradio.com/news/article/petition-aims-to-re-start-kids-sports
Hopefully, this initiative is successful so our kids can get back out doing the things they love which provide multiple health benefits.
Those who don’t think this is important need only have some timely and pertinent conversations with family, friends and acquaintances who happen to be parents of kids in the kindergarten through high school age groups.
I have been hearing more and more about children (and their parents) developing anxieties, gaining weight, losing confidence, and generally suffering from the effects of the pandemic – particularly in Ontario where lockdowns come and go, children’s activities have been virtually non-existent (other than a blip here and there), and unnecessary school closures have wreaked havoc on our society.
All these pressures being put on Ontario residents throughout the province, despite the majority of COVID cases being in the Greater Toronto Area and nearby municipalities. Locations which have managed to keep the virus in check such as Muskoka and other like communities have been unnecessarily thrown under the bus due to imaginary health unit lines and a “worst-case scenario” decision-making process.
What’s been more frustrating for many parents is knowing that other provinces have already been providing these extracurricular activities – specifically in the sporting world – for months. In the case of British Columbia, they continued to allow kids sports to run (albeit in a safe manner with protocols in place) throughout the pandemic.
And results have shown B.C. suffered less COVID cases than Ontario; and even when factoring in the population differences, it was still less – as of Friday at noon, only 1.9 percent of B.C.’s population had contracted the virus, compared to 2.4 percent in Ontario.
So, why did our province close off kids’ activities for most of this past year?
On the closing off note: rumours swirled this week of another lockdown looming, as well as the students potentially not returning to school after one of the upcoming breaks (either Easter or Spring).
This was amid reports fearing a “third wave,” upticks of cases in “younger people,” increased hospitalizations, “variant of concern,” and the other standard COVID cliches were tossed around all week.
I’m more fearful of the impact yet another lockdown would have on the already fragile mental and emotional states of the majority of our citizenry, than I am of a sudden rash of COVID cases in the region.
It makes me wonder – as I’m sure it’s made many other intelligent individuals wonder – why are we putting our children through this? Why are we putting our society through this?
There is no evidence that kids under proper protocols and screening couldn’t have continued participating in a variety of social, physical and cultural activities.
Seeing the results in British Columbia – those nasty numbers that contradict the “worst-case scenario” narrative – there is an argument to be made that evidence supports a re-opening in earnest of children’s activities.
The province needs to take corrective measures and listen to the voice of the people in this situation. The province needs to understand that while we care about our elderly and should take measures to protect them, we need to put our children first – as any good parent would do.
It’s time to start caring about our future; it’s time to say the children do matter and ensure they’re able to move forward with healthy minds, bodies and souls.
By Chris Occhiuzzi, for HuntersBayRadio.com