Finding innovative ways for youth to stay connected while self-isolating was a challenge Emilie Leneveu, a Bay of Quinte social entrepreneur and youth advocate, graciously accepted.
“After hearing Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, speak about the importance of social distancing in early March, I was inspired to address youth leadership on digital platforms and the ‘new normal’ we’re collectively experiencing,” said Leneveu, a Loyalist College Biotechnology – Advanced and Cannabis Applied Science graduate.
The result was Social Distancing Sunday, an initiative Leneveu created in collaboration with Gurneet Dhami, a food and social justice advocate. Their digital citizenship project launched on March 22 on Instagram with the objective of helping youth during this very difficult time.
Dhami, who lives in Atlantic Canada, met Leneveu at Global Vision’s Digital Citizenship Ambassador Summit in Fredericton, New Brunswick in September 2019. The summit brought together 100 young leaders from across Canada to strengthen democracy through a digital lens and use technology to address global issues. Dhami is 26 years old, and Leneveu is 22.
Since its inception, Social Distancing Sunday has taken place on various platforms such as Facebook and Zoom. Sessions typically begin at 12 pm EST and focus on food security, health, wellness and youth leadership. Each session is followed by a question and answer period. One of the most common questions Leneveu and Dhami receive is about how to establish work-life balance while in self-isolation.
“It’s important to set boundaries and to make sure you’re not overworking yourself one day, only to be overwhelmed and less functional the next day,” said Leneveu. “Establishing a reward system can help when working remotely. I recommend sectioning off blocks of time for work, followed by a favourite hobby or activity. Before social distancing, I would set goals for the amount of work I wanted to accomplish, and reward myself with an evening walk in Prince Edward County, or a trip to the dog park when I reached my goal. I follow a similar routine now, while adhering to physical distancing guidelines.”
Leneveu can relate to the challenges youth may experience while in self-isolation. She finds it difficult to be away from friends, family and the many organizations and initiatives she supports, such as WE BE US Community, The Positivity Project and the Quinte Regional Science and Technology Fair. She’s also an Associations of Municipalities youth fellow, a Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative intern and part of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO Youth Advisory Group.
“While social distancing hasn’t been easy on our mental health, it has allowed us to see just how powerful we can be as a collective, completely shifting our daily practices in unison to ensure our mutual safety,” she said. “I hope that we can use this time for personal development and that we will see positive repercussions in our social environments.”
To participate in Social Distancing Sunday, follow Emilie Leneveu on Instagram for upcoming event details.