Updated: Mar 23
The onset of Covid-19 has disrupted everyone’s lives. Teens have been hit especially hard by not being able to go to school, hang out with their friends, go to prom, walk across the stage for graduation, and live their normal lives. Latisha Franklin, Vice President of Youth Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore, recognized the mental toll this could take on teens. Franklin created #DearRona, a youth-led group that meets weekly to discuss current topics and anything that is on their minds.
Franklin teamed up with Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, Wide Angle Media, and Our Lives Matter Teen Campaign to provide a platform for teens to voice their struggles and gain support from fellow peers and caring adults. Franklin said, “As adults, its our duty to provide a way for teens to build a safe and positive community. Teens need supportive programs where they can continuously express their truth, recognize their power, and contribute to building a better future.”
The group is managed by the phenomenal Club Director, Destiny Butler, and is led by five teens who host the weekly meetings on Instagram Live. Butler says the teens appreciate having the forum because it allows them to be themselves. She said, “#DearRona has truly made me tap into my creativity and social justice side to lead the teens. Not only are we opening the floor for conversation and release, but the teens are allowing their voices to carry further than just their homes.”
When asked what this forum has meant to him, Teen Leader, Bryan T. said, @DearRona to me is an opportunity for the youth to share their thoughts by provoking conversation on topics that are rarely discussed in their social settings. Educating each other and bringing forth art and societal issues could bring them together to lean on each other through their high school years."
The group is open to all teens nationally. To join, follow @_DearRona and tune in every Thursday at 6 p.m. EST.