By Rochelle Brenner
It’s not Covid. It’s not long haul Covid. I never had Covid. But I have symptoms of struggle I’m now calling “long haul covid fatigue.” I made that name up.
It refers to the mental health impact of years of uncertainty, political divisiveness, prayers and scares for health, community friction, social isolation, mass masking, dizzying changes in expectations – and most importantly, the realization and sadness that it is affecting our children.
Kids went from (non-educational) screen time 4 to an enormous 8 hours a day. That is not healthy for brain development.
How’s this stat (Childhood and Adolescence in the Time of Covid19 (ssa.gov): Nationwide closures of schools and colleges have negatively impacted 91 percent of the world’s student population.
Read that again. NINETY-ONE percent negatively impacted. From the same report:
“Lockdown/quarantine: data suggest disruptions in brain development caused by social isolation. There are reciprocal relationships between social interactions and brain development. Disruptions caused by social isolation potentially influences the onset of psychiatric disorders.” That’s on page 5 - it’s an easy to read slideshow.
To my karate point: I see these kids every day. I know plenty of teachers. They’re stressed in elementary school. That’s why we’ve desperately stayed open and innovated new ways to teach to give the kids things they literally need for healthy brain development – social interaction, education, physical activity, a sense of ability and accomplishment and belonging.
Martial arts is a lifeline for kids. It’s their ability to be themselves in a world that is crazy filled with mixed fear-based messages and they can’t even see their friends faces. Martial arts should be part of every school day in every school in America right now. Not to brag but the schools we work with from every level (low-income to private, pre-K to high school) say that their martial arts time is often exactly what the kids need to reset and move and control their behavior. They say sometimes it’s the only time of the day the kids listened. It would be hard for anyone to endure the frequent traumatic life changes brought on by Covid, but it is especially a concern for our children – some of whom don’t remember a time when they weren’t masked.
I suspect this is something we will be dealing with a long time – Long Haul Covid Fatigue.
A friend shared this:
“I have a daughter who had so much fluid in her ears and we never knew. She ended up hearing everything like it was underwater and when she started talking we couldn’t understand a word she said. When we finally got ear tubes she all of a sudden could hear and then went into 10 years of intense speech therapy. It affected her reading it affected her speech it affected so many developmental things in her life and now what we’re doing is we’re putting a mask on people teachers muffling their voice so that the students don’t hear it properly at those young vulnerable ages where they’re learning the difference between the sound of a B and a D. We are intentionally causing reading delays by putting masks on teachers and young children. Same thing that I spent 10 intense years trying to correct in my child that happened naturally.”
What if this is happening on a large scale? We don’t know the long-term effects of Covid, but there is plenty of evidence that there are significant increases in mental health and decreases in learning. We should be doing things to help avoid the consequences. Martial arts is one of those things.
That’s one of the reasons we launched the Action Scholarship Fund, a non-profit created to get funding for students whose parents can no longer afford it when they most need it and to get grants to reach students in schools. The website is actionscholarshipfund.org and it’s not just an Action Karate thing. Martial arts schools around the country are joining forces and we are hoping to use it as a platform to help communities.
We are fundraising from a nickel a kick at a Kick-a-thon to applying for large grants to reaching out to celebrities and influencers for support. If you’re feeling the effects of Long haul covid fatigue, maybe sharing this will give you a sense of hope, too.