Four Q&As to help transition students jumpstart the season
Summer is finally here! The days are long, the skies are sunny, and transition programs are wrapping up the school year. Pack up the boots and parkas and break out the flipflops and tank tops, because we’re all ready for some fun in the sun.
Well, the truth is that for many young adults, including transition students, it feels strange to go back to the old pre-pandemic life. Adapting to social distancing was hard, and now we have to adapt again to new expectations–that can be challenging, especially for people with I/DD.
Do you feel ready for a social summer? Here are five questions you might be wondering, and some suggestions for how to smooth the transition back to in-person life!
Q: Now that I’ve been vaccinated, can I throw away all my masks?
A: No, don’t ditch the masks just yet.
People who have not been vaccinated should continue to wear masks and social distance. Those who have received the vaccine are well protected against the COVID virus, starting two weeks after the final vaccine shot. That means they no longer have to mask up when with other vaccinated people, according to state guidelines.
However, many shops, restaurants and indoor spaces ask all customers to continue wearing masks, whether or not they have been vaccinated. This will continue until most people have immunity to the COVID virus. It’s a good idea for all of us to keep some masks on hand this summer, so everyone can enjoy shopping, eating out, and meeting friends in public spaces.
Q: That sounds great, but I still feel anxious about gathering in groups, and I’m not as healthy and fit as I used to be. How can I get used to being social and active again?
A: You’re not alone—many people feel anxious about returning to “normal” life.
A recent survey by the American Psychological Association showed that almost half of us are still feeling anxiety and stress from the pandemic. Also, most of us skipped the annual visits to primary care physicians, dentists, and eye doctors. Catching up on medical care is a good way to get back on track – and a good opportunity to talk about mental health concerns like anxiety or depression. Primary care physicians can help you make a plan that fits your needs.
A dose of summer sunshine is a mood-booster too! Just walking outdoors everyday will lift your spirits and your fitness level. It’s an easy way to jumpstart your social life, too. If it’s been a while since you’ve spent time with friends, meeting at a park to walk or just hang out is simple way to reconnect.
Q: I’m ready to cut back on my screen time and do more things in person. What are some ways to make this happen?
A: Summer is the perfect time to change our habits, especially around screen time.
We all used electronics more during the pandemic. Screen time for teens increased by an estimated 60%, sometimes up to nine hours each day! How can a student decrease their online, virtual time and increase their in-person, real-life time?
One idea is to take up a new sport that keeps you outdoors and unplugged. For example, Oregon Adaptive Sports is offering evening golf outings throughout the summer, along with several other outdoor recreation options. Maybe you’d rather explore some new hiking trails – find one near you on the Bend Park and Rec Trail Finder map.
Many transition students connected with friends through online multi-player games during the pandemic. These same friends may be ready to unplug from screentime, too. Switching to in-person game nights instead of virtual gaming can help everyone balance their screen time. Some popular board games include Ticket to Ride, Sequence, and Blockus (but a simple deck of cards or a few dice is all you need for a fun get-together!)
Q: Some of my friends are applying for summer jobs, and I’m thinking about that too. Is this a good time to look for employment?
A: Summer is the perfect time to gain work experience!
Transition students spend the school year defining their goals and dreams. They focus on pre-employment skills like interviewing, and they think about what kind of job would be right for them. By the time summer arrives, students are ready to try out those new ideas and skills.
This year, as the job market bounces back from the pandemic, new opportunities come up every day. Students might notice a “We’re Hiring!” sign outside a store or hear about job openings from a friend, and stop into that business to fill out a job application. YTP specialists and VR counselors may have suggestions on summer work experiences and how to get started. Some positions only last for the summer season– a chance to try something new! Every job experience can build skills and confidence, and serve as a stepping stone to future success.
Photo courtesy of Jonas Tijhs on Unsplash