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Resilience Event urges Buffalo's young people to hang tough

Duncan Kirkwood

It's been a tough year for Buffalo's young people, hit with social distancing, face masks and going to school from their living room. An array of organizations held an online Youth Resilience Event Monday night to inspire youth and pump them up for what looks like a long haul.

Around 50 kids were on the virtual call, with activist Duncan Kirkwood as the facilitator. Clearly, those on the call were aware of how fraying these long months of the pandemic have been on them, trying to learn while fixated on a computer screen that may or may not work well.

The facilitator talked about the need to focus on themselves and today and how to make the best use of their time. He pointed out that one hour a day of social media adds up to over a week or a month or longer.

Kirkwood reminded those on the call, there have been convulsions in their lives this year.

"Basketball is in a bubble, not to mention the racial unrest. George Floyd was murdered, Breonna Taylor before that," he said. "And protests erupted around the world to fight back against oppression and overt racism and then people pushing against racism, people refusing to wear masks, people's loved ones dying on unequal jobs. It's a pretty rough year."

Kirkwood used social media as an example of what young people can do, watching other people's lives on a screen or working on their own lives with the time lockdown has given them, whether for school or learning a musical instrument.

Deonte said this has been damaging dreams.

"It just seems like the dreams I want are so big and it's like so far away," he said. "But you go to take steps to be prepared when opportunity is to come, one has to be prepared, to be ready. Better than to be prepared and not have the opportunity than to be offered the opportunity and not be prepared."

Xavier said it been hard, but some good as well.

"What's this going to look like? Hopefully, it'll be better, but, you're right, we have to really take what's going on right now and make the best of it and turn it into a positive in some way," he said. "There have been some positives with this pandemic, in certain areas. So those are things that I generally appreciate. So that probably resonated with me."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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