Simone Biles Prioritizes Her Mental Health By Withdrawing From Team USA’s Final Competition In The Tokyo Olympics

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Simone Biles at the olympic games posing with her arms in the air in front of a balance beam

By Marsha B., Yahoo! Lifestyle

Over the years, people with high profile occupations like athletes, musicians, and actors, have compromised their mental health at the expense of their craft. The idea that you have to power through filming a movie, performing at a concert, or competing in a game because people are depending on you, often causes you to compromise the time needed to rebuild your mental, physical and emotional stamina.

When Naomi Osaka first told the world that she wouldn’t participate in the 2021 French Open, she was met with both praise and mockery. We rarely hear of athletes prioritizing their mental health, but this generation has made it clear that no competition is worth compromising their mental and emotional well being.

Simone Biles is the latest athlete to throw in the towel and withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics. In a tweet from the USA Gymnastics, they gave Biles’ official statement.

“Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”

Although her official statement says she’s withdrawing for medical issues, others are saying it is more about preserving her emotional well-being. In another statement, Biles said that physically she feels well but emotionally things aren’t as steady.

“Physically, I feel good, I’m in shape. Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn’t an easy feat, so we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and we’ll see.”

In another tweet, an NBC commentator reported that according to a Team USA coach, Biles’ exit was less about an injury and more about an internal struggle she’s having.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Lifestyle.

Instagram Knows Just How Damaging It Is for Teen Girls

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Instagram Knows Just How Damaging It Is for Teen Girls

By , The Cut

For several months now, Facebook execs have been kicking around an eerie product idea few people seem to want: Instagram for Kids. Given the negative mental-health outcomes the app’s youngest users already report, lots of parents, lawmakers, and almost all the nation’s attorneys general have lobbied the company to please not. Nonetheless, Facebook persists — the youths are a lucrative market! — even though its own research reportedly confirms that for teens, Instagram outpaces other social-media platforms when it comes to fostering feelings of anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphia.

“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” reads a slide from a 2019 presentation of corporate data, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apparently, Facebook has been investigating these topics for about three years, and the findings have painted a bleak picture. “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” another slide stated. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.” Numbers from 2020 indicated the same: “32 percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse …Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.” Among teens who reported experiencing suicidal thoughts, 6 percent of U.S. users and 13 percent of U.K. users attributed ideation to Instagram.

The Journal reports that about 40 percent of Instagram users clock in under 22, and that about 22 million teens use the app daily. For this group, corporate research suggests that Instagram poses a unique problem in terms of social comparison, or the tendency to measure oneself against the standard set by other people’s posts. While TikTok leans on performance and Snapchat promotes cartoonish filters, Instagram is where people go to document their best moments, often edited for maximum impact. Then in comes the algorithm, the same villain that may have led you to believe everyone went to Greece without you this summer: Similar to TikTok, it notices what content engages you and for how long, then tailors your Explore page accordingly. The Journal identifies this feature as a uniquely damaging Instagram feature: One 18-year-old who spoke to the paper said she developed an eating disorder after falling into fitness wormholes every time she opened the app. “When I went on Instagram, all I saw were images of chiseled bodies, perfect abs, and women doing 100 burpees in ten minutes.”

While the research notes that not every young user who spends time scrolling reports the same problems, it also suggests that many link their self-esteem issues directly back to Instagram. In one survey of U.S. and U.K. teens, 40 percent reportedly said they started feeling “unattractive” around the same time they started using Instagram; about 25 percent said it made them feel “not good enough.” Many said that using the app created anxiety around friendships and social activity, but that many teens are “unable to stop themselves” from logging on.

What’s especially discouraging, though, is that Facebook publicly downplays Instagram’s potential for making people depressed, even though it has the data. “The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental health benefits,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress in March of this year, while in May, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said adverse effects on adolescents’ well-being were probably “quite small.” One in three teen girls isn’t an insignificant portion of users, though it is a strong argument against the forthcoming Instagram Junior. Nobody asked for this, and per Facebook’s own data, it seems no one needs it, either.

Click here to read the full article on The Cut.

Asmongold opens up on mental health struggles in candid Twitch stream

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During a stream on September 11, Asmongold shared a candid moment with viewers where he discussed his struggles with mental health and suicidal thoughts.

By Bill Cooney, Dexerto

During a stream on September 11, Asmongold shared a candid moment with viewers where he discussed his struggles with mental health and suicidal thoughts.

Asmongold is one of the most popular MMO steamers on Twitch, but recently opened up to fans about the struggles he’s had with mental health as a result.

When a user donated and asked if he’d ever “felt like Reckful (who took his own life in 2020) unironically.” Asmon gave an honest answer that initially concerned fans before the streamer provided reassurance.

“‘Do you ever feel how Reckful felt unironically?’ I probably shouldn’t say this, I’ve wanted to kill myself many times, yeah, absolutely,” Asmon revealed during the stream.

If you check out the chat while Asmon was saying this, there is an outpouring of love and support for the streamer, but at the same time worry for the concerning comments from viewers.

“What a f***ing segway,” Asmon added. “Yeah, many many times, I’m just too much of a p****y to do it, don’t worry about it I’ll be fine, I’m not going anywhere.”

His chat was, as we said, more than supportive after the streamer made these comments, but they still caused plenty of concern among fans. However, he said it was something he’d been wanting to talk about for awhile, and would be making changes to his stream in the future.

“I’d like to take down some of the super high energy stuff I do, and just try to have a little bit more of, just me,” Asmon said. “Not a bunch of crazy bulls***t, not a bunch of weird showmanship, just me. Just me streaming us having fun together, and relaxing.”

Mental health has become a huge issue not just on Twitch, but with internet personalities and creators as a whole. Asmon certainly isn’t alone in his struggles, either, so if you happen to tune into him in the near future, be sure to show the WoW OG some love.

Click here to read the full article on Dexerto.

His Wheelchair Was Found Damaged Before The Race. Then He Set A Paralympic Record

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Peter Genyn of Team Belgium won gold in the Men's 100-meter T51 final on day 10 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

By , NPR

Two hours before the final of the men’s 100-meter T51 race in this summer’s Paralympic games, Peter Genyn arrived at the venue to find his wheelchair badly damaged.

“We had just arrived 45 minutes before the warmup, and we had three flat tires and a broken compensator. Everybody did everything they could to help, including the Dutch team,” the Belgian athlete told the Olympic Information Services after the race Friday.

Using duct tape to fix the frame, a team of staff from Team Belgium and Ottobock, a company that specializes in prosthetics and wheelchairs, rushed to fix the chair and replace the tires in time for Genyn to compete in the race.

Then the 44-year-old Genyn won gold, setting a new Paralympic record of 20.33 seconds.

“Thankfully I’m a maniac about my equipment, and I had lots of spares,” he said to the OIS. “I got my revenge.”

After his victory, Genyn told the Belgian TV network Sporza that he believed the damage to be an intentional act of “pure sabotage.”

“My chair is hanging together with duct tape. Someone must have been very scared,” he said, reportedly in tears. “It was terrible. I really thought it was over.”

The bronze medalist Roger Habsch, another Belgian athlete, also reported a flat tire that he believed to be intentional, according to Sporza. The Belgian Paralympic Committee has reportedly asked for an investigation.

Genyn is the world-record holder in the T51 classification, which covers track athletes with a variety of spinal cord disabilities with minimal upper body capabilities. Athletes in the T51 classification race in wheelchairs.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Zendaya says she prioritized her mental health while growing up in the spotlight

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Zendaya said that the pandemic led her towards feeling persistent existential sadness

By The News International

Hollywood superstar Zendaya got candid about her mental health and how she learnt to prioritize it while growing up in the spotlight.

In a sit-down with British Vogue, the Dune actor, 25, spoke about going to therapy and recommended everyone to give it a try as well.

“Of course I go to therapy. I mean, if anybody is able to possess the financial means to go to therapy, I would recommend they do that. I think it’s a beautiful thing,” said the Euphoria actor.

“There’s nothing wrong with working on yourself and dealing with those things with someone who can help you, someone who can talk to you, who’s not your mom or whatever. Who has no bias,” said the former Disney star.

The actor also spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that subsequently followed led her towards feeling persistent existential sadness.

“[It was the] first kind of taste of sadness where you wake up and you just feel bad all day, like what the [expletive] is going on? What is this dark cloud that’s hovering over me and I don’t know how to get rid of it, you know?”

Click here to read the full article on The News International.

FREE Online Class Series on Fighting Diabetes with Food

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group of women enjoying plant-based foods together

Learn how plant-based foods can help improve blood sugar, lose weight, control blood pressure, and more at a free online class series!

Join doctors, dietitians, nurses, chefs, health coaches, people who have reversed their diabetes, and other experts for ongoing live and on-demand classes.
 
 

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How Paralympic Wheelchairs and Prostheses Are Optimized for Speed and Performance

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Japan’s Yui Kitama (left) shoots during the first quarter of a women’s wheelchair basketball preliminary-round game against the U.K. at the Tokyo Paralympics at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza on August 26, 2021. Credit: Getty Images

By Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American

As audiences across the world tune in to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, they will see athletes using an impressive array of high-tech prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs and other assistive technology. These devices bear little resemblance to those for everyday use—and vary a great deal from sport to sport.

“We design sporting equipment to get the best possible performance based upon the constraints and needs of that sport,” explains Bryce Dyer, a sports technologist at Bournemouth University in England, who develops prostheses for athletes with disabilities.

For example, blade-style prostheses—which are springy to better store and release energy—have become well known in track-and-field events. But people with lower-limb amputations who compete in cycling events have to perform a different type of motion at much higher velocities, so their prosthetic limbs have different requirements. “One of the greatest forces that slow you down when you get above a certain speed is that of aerodynamic drag. And the more drag there is, the more effort you have to apply to try and mitigate for and overcome it,” Dyer explains. The legs of nondisabled people are “not particularly aerodynamic; they’re not designed for that task. But a cycling prosthesis, we can design it that way.” He has created such items with a flat middle section in place of the lower leg. “We can make it very, very thin,” Dyer says, “almost like an aircraft wing—razor-blade thickness—to slice through air [and] reduce or remove any turbulence from it.” For cycling limbs, this flat section is oriented so the thin edge faces forward, as opposed to blade prostheses for running, in which the broad side does so.

Wheelchairs for different sports also vary widely, although they share some similarities. Many are built from high-tech materials, such as carbon fiber, that make them both strong and lightweight. They often include rubber-coated wheel-turning grips that athletes grab with gloved hands to maximize friction. But beyond that, the designs diverge. In wheelchair fencing, for example, the wheels are locked into place while athletes strike and dodge from set positions. So fencing chairs are equipped with leg straps and sturdy handles that help the athlete stay solidly seated. And many have a lower than usual back to enable more upper-body movement.

The basic shape of a fencing chair still looks a lot like that of an everyday wheelchair. But this is not at all the case with racing chairs, which are built for high speeds. A third wheel in the front of such a device enables a low, elongated shape, which works optimally with the athlete’s position: kneeling and leaning forward. Spoked wheels are usually swapped out for smooth disks that generate less air turbulence, reducing the effort required to move at high speeds.

For sports that require more maneuverability, yet another design element is required. “Your tires or your wheels are actually slanted,” says retired American wheelchair basketball player Becca Murray, who has participated in three Paralympic Games and won gold at two of them. “And the dynamic of that is that it helps you be faster, and you’re able to turn quicker on the dime, whereas your everyday chair—it doesn’t let you turn as sharp.” Additional wheels on the back of the chair also help with these speedy turns and add stability. But such chairs do sometimes tip over, so designs must be sturdy. This is also why athletes wear straps or belts across their hips and legs. “If you were to fall over, you want to be able to just get right back up,” Murray says. “So you want your wheelchair to stay attached to you, almost like you’re one with the wheelchair.”

In addition to suiting a specific sport, a device must serve each athlete’s unique needs. “Most of the equipment is custom-made: it’s designed to get the most out of that individual athlete’s physical body,” says Ian Brittain, an associate professor of disability and Paralympic sport at Coventry University’s Research Center for Business in Society in England. For instance, prosthetic legs for track and field may or may not include mechanical knee joints. “Some runners, depending on the length of their limb, will have a knee joint added” if they have an above-the-knee amputation, Dyer says. “But there are some unique athletes, and a good example of that is the British athlete Richard Whitehead.” Whitehead has two above-the-knee amputations and has developed his own running style—one that does not require knee joints at all. “It looks almost like an egg whisk, where he almost brings his legs around in a whisking pattern, left- and right-hand side,” Dyer says. “That’s very unique to him.”

Among athletes who compete in wheelchairs, similar customization is necessary. For instance, increasing the height of the chair’s back and the slope of its seat, also called the “dump,” can help compensate for abdominal weakness. “I actually have a little dump in my chair because I don’t have all my core muscles to help me with that balance,” Murray explains. “It just means that my knees are higher than where I’m sitting, so it’s on an incline.” Players with injuries high on their spine may have less abdominal strength than Murray and require a dump even in their everyday chair. Others with amputations or knee injuries may have more abdominal strength and not need a dump at all.

The technology seen at the Paralympics can increase speed and mobility in sports—but it is unlikely to inspire visibly different designs for nonathletes. One reason is that the wheelchairs used in daily life are already optimized for other qualities, such as taking up as little space as possible. “You want your everyday chair to be the smallest it can be, because in everyday life, you have to get through little places and doorways and things like that,” Murray explains. “You like it to fit snug on your hips, and the wheels are straight up and down so that you can be as narrow as possible.” Many public spaces are simply not built to accommodate a variety of wheelchair designs.

Price is another consideration. “You have to bear in mind the commercial market for elite athletes is incredibly small, and in many cases, those athletes are sponsored,” Dyer says. “So it is important to have some degree of trickle down in the same way that IndyCar or Formula One technology does eventually trickle down to everyday family cars. But sometimes it’s quite subtle.” For example, some scarcely visible component of a prosthesis—such as the socket that attaches the limb to the wearer’s body—may improve.

Click here to read the full article on the Scientific American.

A neuroscientist shares the 6 exercises she does every day to build resilience and mental strength

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A neuroscientist shares the 6 exercises she does every day to build resilience and mental strength

By Wendy Suzuki, CNBC

When I first began researching anxiety in my lab as a neuroscientist, I never thought of myself as an anxious person.

That is, until I started noticing the words used by my subjects, colleagues, friends and even myself to describe how we were feeling — “worried,” “on edge,” stressed out,” “distracted,” “nervous,” “ready to give up.”

But what I’ve found over the years is that the most powerful way to combat anxiety is to consistently work on building your resilience and mental strength. Along the way, you’ll learn to appreciate or even welcome certain kinds of mistakes for all the new information they bring you.

Here are six daily exercises I use to build my resilience and mental strength:

1. Visualize positive outcomes

At the beginning or at the end of each day, think through all those uncertain situations currently in your life — both big and small. Will I get a good performance review? Will my kid settle well in his new school? Will I hear back after my job interview?

Now take each of those and visualize the most optimistic and amazing outcome to the situation. Not just the “okay” outcome, but the best possible one you could imagine.

This isn’t to set you up for an even bigger disappointment if you don’t end up getting the job offer. Instead, it should build the muscle of expecting the positive outcome and might even open up ideas for what more you might do to create that outcome of your dreams.

2. Turn anxiety into progress

Our brain’s plasticity is what enables us to be resilient during challenging times — to learn how to calm down, reassess situations, reframe our thoughts and make smarter decisions.

And it’s easier to take advantage of this when we remind ourselves that anxiety doesn’t always have to be bad. Consider the below:

  • Anger could block your attention and ability to perform, OR it could fuel and motivate you; sharpen your attention; and serve as a reminder of what’s important.
  • Fear could trigger memories of past failures; rob your attention and focus; and undermine your performance, OR it could make you more careful about your decisions; deepen your reflection; and create opportunities for changing direction.
  • Sadness could flatten out your mood and demotivate you, OR it could help you reprioritize and motivate you to change your environment, circumstances and behavior.
  • Worry could make you procrastinate and get in the way of accomplishing goals, OR it could help you fine-tune your plans; adjust your expectations; and become more realistic and goal-oriented.
  • Frustration could stymie your progress and steal your motivation, OR it could innervate and challenge you to do more or better.

These comparisons may seem simplistic, but they point to powerful choices that produce tangible outcomes.

3. Try something new

These days, it’s easier than ever to take a new online class, join a local sports club or participate in a virtual event.

Not too long ago, I joined Wimbledon champ Venus Williams in an Instagram Live workout, where she was using Prosecco bottles as her weights. I’d never done something like that before. It turned out to be a fantastic and memorable experience.

My point is that for free (or only a small fee) you can push your brain and body to try something you never would have considered before. It doesn’t have to be a workout, and it doesn’t have to be hard — it can be something right above your level or just slightly outside of your comfort zone.

4. Reach out

Being able to ask for help, staying connected to friends and family, and actively nurturing supportive, encouraging relationships not only enables you to keep anxiety at bay, but also shores up the sense that you’re not alone.

It isn’t easy to cultivate, but the belief and feeling that you are surrounded by people who care about you is crucial during times of enormous stress — when you need to fall back on your own resilience in order to persevere and maintain your well-being.

When we are suffering from loss or other forms of distress, it’s natural to withdraw. We even see this kind of behavior in animals who are mourning. Yet you also have the power to push yourself into the loving embrace of those who can help take care of you.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Six-time major marathon winner Daniel Romanchuk grabs first Paralympic medal

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Already a legend in the marathon community, Daniel Romanchuk won the first Paralympic medal of his career Sunday night with a gold medal on the track.

By NBC Sports.

Already a legend in the marathon community, Daniel Romanchuk won the first Paralympic medal of his career Sunday night with a gold medal on the track.

As the first and only U.S. man – elite or wheelchair – to win the World Marathon Majors series title, and a reigning world champion on the track, Romanchuk had already made a name for himself but had yet to medal at the Paralympic Games.

Romanchuk won the men’s 400m T54 in 45.72 seconds in Tokyo, edging Thailand’s Athiwat Paeng-Nuea by one hundredth of a second. China’s Dai Yunqiang took bronze in 46.20.

The final also included 11-time Paralympic medalist Saichon Konjen of Thailand, four-time world medalist Zhang Yong of China and two-time world medalist Richard Chiassaro, who finished fourth, fifth and seventh.

The Maryland native set an Americas record of 45.31 seconds to win the first heat earlier in the day, while Paeng-Nuea set a Paralympic record of 44.87 in his heat, lowering the previous one that had stood since 2008 by 0.2.

In the final, Romanchuk, 23, trailed the 18-year-old Paeng-Nuea as they rounded the final turn, but chased him down the straightaway and caught him at the line.

Romanchuk made his Paralympic debut five years ago in Rio, where he raced every distance from the 100m to the 5000m but was no better than 13th in his five events.

He started racing marathons in 2016, when he placed 16th in New York City. By 2018, Romanchuk was third in both Boston and London in the spring, then won Chicago and New York in the fall.

The following year, Romanchuk swept all four domestic major marathons and was second in Tokyo. He won the World Marathon Majors series title for 2018-19, joining Tatyana McFadden as the only Americans to do so.

Romanchuk is the first American to win the New York City men’s wheelchair title, and the youngest winner in his event at both Boston and New York.

After his dominant year in the marathon, Romanchuk went to Dubai for the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships and won the 800m T54 world title for his first major medal on the track.

Click here to read the full article on NBC Sports.

Paralympian Sophia Herzog has a mental health coach and psychologist ‘to get me prepared and healthy’

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Sophia Herzog smiling at the camera

By Cindy Augustine, Yahoo! Life

The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.

Sophia Herzog may be a Paralympian bound for Tokyo and determined to win a medal in swimming, but in many ways, she’s a lot like her 20-something peers: focused on her future. The Colorado native, who was born with a form of dwarfism, has been steadily training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, prepping for the Tokyo games — but she knows she can’t swim forever.

When Herzog, 24, isn’t training or obsessing over her dog, Odie, she’s been thinking about what lies ahead after swimming — and choosing to make her education a priority. As a graduate from DeVry University, an official education provider of Team USA, Herzog was able to get her degree on her own terms (mostly virtual), and showed off her ability to juggle her athletic training and career training.

Herzog will be competing in freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly heats as the Paralympic Games get underway on Tuesday. Before taking off for Tokyo, the athlete caught up with Yahoo Life and shared how she stays focused and mentally prepared.

How do you approach taking care of your mental health?

We saw how much pressure athletes are under from the [Tokyo] Olympics, and I think it’s really important. I have a mental health coach and a psychologist that I work with almost weekly to get me prepared and healthy, just like my gym coach and swim coach. It’s nice to shed a light on the pressure — Olympic superhero athletes are just like every other human.

Aside from being in the pool, what else brings you joy?

We adopted a dog last June, and he’s been [helpful] in disconnecting from swimming. Getting outside and watching him be joyous over the littlest things has been a huge help for me. He’s now my child [laughs], Odie. I’m only 24 years old now and this is what I’ve done professionally for 12 years. I haven’t really experienced life outside of swimming and I’m looking forward to finding what brings me joy — besides my dog.

Click here to read the full article Yahoo! Life.

Students are returning to school with anxiety, grief and gaps in social skills – will there be enough school mental health resources?

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New findings suggest a doubling of rates of disorders such as anxiety and depression among children and adolescents during the pandemic.

By Yahoo! News

Even before COVID-19, as many as 1 in 6 young children had a diagnosed mental, behavioral or developmental disorder. New findings suggest a doubling of rates of disorders such as anxiety and depression among children and adolescents during the pandemic.

One reason is that children’s well-being is tightly connected to family and community conditions such as stress and financial worries.

Particularly for children living in poverty, there are practical obstacles, like transportation and scheduling, to accessing mental health services. That’s one reason school mental health professionals – who include psychologists, counselors and social workers – are so essential.

As many kids resume instruction this fall, schools can serve as critical access points for mental health services. But the intensity of challenges students face coupled with school mental health workforce shortages is a serious concern.

Key issues
As school psychology professors who train future school psychologists, we are used to requests by K-12 schools for potential applicants to fill their open positions. Never before have we received this volume of contacts regarding unfilled positions this close to the start of the school year.

As researchers on school mental health, we believe this shortage is a serious problem given the increase in mental health challenges, such as anxiety, gaps in social skills and grief, that schools can expect to see in returning students.

Anxiety should be expected given current COVID-related uncertainties. However, problems arise when those fears or worries prevent children from being able to complete the expected tasks of everyday life.

Meanwhile, school closures and disruptions have led to lost opportunities for students to build social skills. A McKinsey & Co. analysis found the pandemic set K-12 students back by four to five months, on average, in math and reading during the 2020-2021 school year. Learning loss also extends to social skills. These losses may be particularly profound for the youngest students, who may have missed developmental opportunities such as learning to get along with others.

And it’s important to remember the sheer number of children under 18 who have lost a loved one during the pandemic. A study published in July 2021 estimates that more than 1 out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. lost a primary caregiver due to COVID-19.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! News.

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  1. 2021 ERG & Council Conference
    September 15, 2021 - September 17, 2021
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Upcoming Events

  1. 2021 ERG & Council Conference
    September 15, 2021 - September 17, 2021
  2. The Arc’s 2021 National Convention
    September 27, 2021 - September 29, 2021
  3. CSUN Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022