by Jamie Weber February 1, 2021Lions Quest Helps Children Cope with PandemicCOVID-19. Mention the virus, and thoughts of fighting off physical illness come to mind. Yet there is another side of the global pandemic that’s taking a different troubling toll — a toll on young people’s mental well-being. Childhood can be challenging under the best of circumstances, and today, quarantines, thoughts of serious sickness, and losing loved ones are causing youth additional stress, restlessness, and fear.Kids and their parents now have the social-emotional tools to help them through the pandemic.Young children may have experienced a family member with illness or a virus making its way around their community, but a pandemic is a new level this generation has never seen. Today, children need support in new ways. Enter Lions Quest, the signature youth development program of Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF).Building Connection, Inspiring Hope Lions Quest is rooted in social and emotional learning (SEL) and offers curricula for students in grades Pre-K through 12. It’s a proven program through which children effectively apply knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to live happy, healthy lives. Students learn to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.SEL can help children feel safer, more connected, and hopeful, feelings particularly affected by the pandemic. Skills developed through Lions Quest lessons and exercises also aid children in managing emotions that may arise from changing routines, social isolation, and learning of friends and family affected by the virus.Social and emotional learning can help children feel safer, more connected, and hopeful, feelings particularly affected by the pandemic.Lions in north and central Argentina, integral in the implementation of Lions Quest, wanted to address the new situations students are facing due to COVID-19, so they organized efforts to continue the program while schools were closed. They worked with a local Lions Quest trainer to adapt the lessons for online learning and created social media groups for teachers to share resources, inspire motivation, and stay connected. For students whose families cannot afford internet access, Lions printed and delivered Lions Quest materials. Some even purchased internet access for those families, ensuring the children still had access to the vital life lessons Lions Quest offers.Advantages of Learning from Home The pandemic has brought on new stressors that could easily lead children to poor behavior and dangerous decisions; however, Lions Quest is guiding them through. “Lions Quest helped us give students tools and resources needed to be empathetic, to avoid drugs, and to value themselves as people,” says Guadalupe Ferreyra, an elementary schoolteacher at School N ° 4845 in Salta Norte. “Our school has had a reduced rate of violence since implementing the program in 2017; it is extremely effective.”Lions Quest’s family connection worksheets are proving to be especially useful during this time. The worksheets are a critical tool designed to help students practice each lesson’s skill with family members. Students learn to identify emotions and clearly communicate their thoughts around given situations. They complete the worksheets with a family member so they can relate their lesson to real life situations that happen at home. “In these pandemic times, it is very important to reach students through the family connection worksheets,” says schoolteacher Yael Palavecino, who’s helping her elementary school students in Buenos Aires navigate unfamiliar territory provoked by the pandemic.“We have been able to virtually enter homes and interact with the family of each of our students, as we have never been able to do before,” says Lion Richard Lanza, a professor in Cordoba training teachers to implement Lions Quest. “Through empathy and development of social skills, Lions Quest has allowed us to cope with this very different and complex situation.”As families are spending day and night together isolating at home, the children are learning to cope with stress in a healthy way. “With Lions Quest, we learned the skills to improve our relationships and coexistence with others,” says Camila, a 6th-grade student. Her classmate Magali agrees. “Lions Quest taught me to respect, to understand, and to listen.”While this story takes place in Argentina, children across the world are impacted by COVID-19. Times might be tough, but Lions Quest is helping children adapt and become stronger emotionally.To learn more about LCIF’s social and emotion learning curriculum visit lions-quest.org.