Dear VOX community,
I hope this finds you taking care of yourself and the ones you love in these uncertain times. I admit that back in March, I thought that we would surely be returning to the “new normal” by now. And yet, we are collectively trying to figure out this next phase and carve out moments of peace and normalcy while there is still so much we don’t know.
In the spirit of sharing what we do know, I wanted to send an update on VOX and our programming through the end of the year. We remain committed to supporting the young people we serve and the community as a whole with high-quality programming and publishing by teens, for teens. We are grateful that we can do that virtually and will continue in a virtual model through the end of the semester. This includes the adult staff team continuing to work remotely, connecting with teens and one another to keep VOX moving forward. We have made this decision based on data from the CDC and input from our VOX community, including teens, parents, board members, staff, alumni, donors, and volunteers.
If anything changes with the data from the CDC and we see a low-to-no spread of COVID-19 in our metro region, we can revise and pivot back to in-person programming. However, at this time, we are committed to a harm and risk reduction approach to our services. We want to keep teens and the adults who serve them safe and healthy. It is also our hope that we will be able to safely gather in a socially distanced, outdoor environment soon. Our adult team is exploring places to host and ways to ensure that the gatherings are smaller and geographically accessible.
We know that we can adapt to this time. We successfully provided our summer experience, VOX Media Cafe, to teens both returning and new to VOX. We will launch our school year programming on Saturday, 8/29 to over 60 teens with the number of applicants continuing to grow! We will bring the same level of care to building community and a sense of belonging into the virtual space. We remain committed to meeting our teens’ needs in this moment and hearing from them about what is most important right now. Programming will include opportunities to build skills around publishing and self-expression, social-emotional support, planning for life after high school and of course, opportunities to connect with peers and have fun.
We know that we can continue to partner with other youth-serving organizations as well, offering high-quality digital workshops to teens throughout the community. Partnerships with JumpSpark, the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), the Boys & Girls Club, youthSpark, the Georgia Teen Institute, the TransFormation Youth Academy and more have supported young people at VOX and beyond in building connection and community.
We know that virtual programming offers additional access to VOX that we are eager to explore in these times and beyond. We are using this moment to stretch and grow as a team of adult guides on the side. We are getting creative with how we do this work, ensuring that our commitment to high-quality programming never wavers and that VOXers feel prepared, connected and valued.
We also know that VOX remains necessary. We will ensure that teens that want to participate in our programming have the tools and equipment they need, including hotspots and recording equipment. We will also continue our stipends for their work, honoring the creativity and energy the teens pour into the pieces you experience on VOXATL.org.
We are grateful for the community of teens, staff, board members, volunteers, parents, alumni and supporters who care deeply about VOX. We care deeply about you, too, and hope that we all get to see one another in person soon. In the meantime, continue to read the content on VOXATL.org and stay tuned for ways to connect with us this fall!
In the spirit of VOX,