Igniting a Sense of Identity and Belonging in Our Young People

She is a 9-year-old girl who is in her school band and plays on a recreational soccer team. He is a 14-year-old boy on his school’s basketball team who attends camp each summer. Most of all, these Canadian kids enjoy hanging out with their friends.  After more than a year of suspended relationships and activities that help them explore and define who they are, our young people are among the millions of kids around the world who are feeling disheartened and disconnected.  

The global pandemic has illuminated the impact of a lack of connection in day-to-day life. Millions of elementary and secondary students around the world have left the school system, according to The Institute for 21st Century Questions (21CQ); in Canada alone, approximately 200,000 children and youth are not currently attending school, neither in person nor virtually. The Toronto-based think tank calls this “arguably the most under appreciated, time-urgent catastrophe of the entire pandemic.” If young people do not find their way back into the school system, their path to success will be cut short, with many children lacking the necessary skills and tools to survive in a post-pandemic world, reports 21CQ. 

“On top of the long-term academic impact, we cannot ignore the erosion of a healthy and inclusive social fabric that is occurring. Kids need connection and to have a positive sense of purpose and identity in their community,” says Captains & Poets co-founder Jan Frolic. In school communities, we are witnessing a deterioration of that sense of belonging. According to a report by the Toronto District School Board’s Human Rights Office, reported hate-related incidents in Toronto schools increased by more than 380 per cent last year. These regular occurrences of hate, bias, and racism have impacted many of our young people’s sense of self. 

These uncertain times have highlighted the importance of foundational Social Emotional Learning (SEL) tools in order to promote self-awareness and healthy relationships with others. “We want to help get kids back on track for September by shifting the narrative from one of disempowerment and disconnection to one of resilience and connection.  Through the shared experience of self-discovery, young people are able to connect on a deeper level with who they are, gain a deeper understanding of who they want to be, and help create a more inclusive and accepting world,” says Captains & Poets co-founder Jennifer Johnson. 

Captains & Poets is on a quest to ignite self-awareness, well-being and connection by supporting educators with tools that give young people the skills they need to help them thrive in an ever-changing world. Captains & Poets K-to-12 archetype-based curriculum and home resources encourage kids to identify and connect with their inner captain and poet to develop an intuitive compass that can guide them on their journey to adulthood and beyond. The programming provides young people with simple strategies to help them become their best, authentic selves and to embrace others in the same spirit.