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GPF Philippines Sponsors 'Safe Talks' Webinar Series to Support Filipino Youth

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Five-part virtual community provides space for youth to discuss aspirations for the future as well as stresses due to pandemic.

Safe Talks: Tales and Takes by the Youth is a series of conversations hosted by Safe Space Heroes and led by the youth discussing important social concerns and challenges facing the world today.

Note: The 2020 Safe Space Heroes are Sarah Fabito of WiTECH
Batangas; Qjiel Mariano of Ladders to Literacy; Kier Aventurado
of Happy Hearts Initiative; Joshua Cote of the Puso Movement;
and Jay Angelo Pineda of Sak.AI. QC.

The impact of the pandemic on youth goes beyond the disruption of classroom participation, affecting social gatherings and networks, which are especially important to youth. Global Peace Foundation and Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation continue to share its advocacy for Safe Spaces through sponsorship of a five-part webinar specifically for youth.

The episodes are hosted by young people who share their own stories, experiences, thoughts, opinions, and suggestions, while encouraging everyone to be part of the solution. 

Effects of social media on mental health

The first session, on October 16, 2020, explored the effects of social media on mental health. Although mental health is not exclusively a concern for youth, stigmatizing and judging people with mental health conditions is still rampant, especially on social media. 

For youth social media is a good way to stay connected. It is a useful platform for information-sharing, yet like other technological advancements, it has unintended consequences.  Social media can be used to create supportive online communities, but can also be used for bullying, or spreading hate or disinformation.

With information constantly updated, a “fear of missing out” on the latest news can create anxiousness, while a tendency to compare one’s life to others may lower self-esteem. Remember that in social media, people only post highlights of what they want people to see, so it is unhealthy to compare yourself with selective self-expression of others.

How do youth dream?

The second episode on November 27 created space to explore the dreams and aspirations of youth. When children dream, they tend to focus on the feelings of their dreams rather than the material wealth or limitations it may bring. 

There are times where choosing a dream career may depend on the culture of the family, the influence of parents, or family legacy in a certain discipline.

One participant, Mariano, envisioned free universal access to healthcare for all people. Thinking of those who are not privileged enough to access medical help in times of need motivates him to achieve his dream to be a licensed nurse and, eventually, a licensed physician.

Mistakes are not setbacks but rather an opportunity to improve oneself. Life is a journey and a process, sometimes it will be easy, sometimes difficult, but our attitude toward the variables of life is crucial.

Looking back to move forward: our hopes for 2021

The third session on December 11 focused on the holidays and the impact of the pandemic, which has disrupted traditional gatherings and celebrations, as well as impacted livelihoods.  

Participants shared personal highlights of the year, such as the establishment of community-based initiatives, the creation of Happy Hearts Initiative and the Mayari Movement, and launching of a women’s and tech organization in Batangas.

After sharing their milestones, they discussed the lessons they learned, “to trust the process,” “accept change because it is inevitable,” and embrace progress.

Creating safe spaces with love

The fourth Safe Talks webinar on February 19 emphasized the importance of love and affection—for ourselves, our families, and friends. So Valentine’s Day is not just a celebration for couples but a day to show love and affection to all, by becoming a safe space for friends.

“Love should prevail in all situations,” said Philippine Daily Inquirer contributor Angeline Faustino. “Love provokes change and accepts people for them. There are all kinds of love but let us practice those that can promote peace, unity, and happiness for all people. We should continue to advocate for safe space in families, communities, online, and in conversations.”

Managing stress and coping at the frontline

The pandemic causes stress for everyone. But most stressful is the overwhelming demands on frontline providers who dedicate their lives to serve and protect the public from this unseen enemy. The final Safe Talk session on May 14 was dedicated to frontline workers to support them in their stressful daily lives. Youth, in particular, who are serving on the frontline should be commended for their efforts.

At the conclusion the hosts encouraged the youth to continue their advocacy and register for the grant competition to become the 2021 Safe Spaces Hero. It is a once in a lifetime experience for the youth and they should participate.

The 2020 Safe Space Heroes promised to uphold creating Safe Spaces for all through the organizations and programs they have created for the youth to promote Safe schools, Safe conversations, Safe communities —Safe Spaces For All Faces.

The original posts from GPF Philippines for the 5-part webinar can be found here: