While the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be overstated- many communities realized new opportunities amidst community lockdowns and program closures.
An area of service that greatly increased was the use of digital media as an outreach method to continue outreach and remain connected with local community youth and their families. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) located on the Flathead Reservation in western Montana have demonstrated the use of digital media as a tool to support youth outreach and engagement.
Over the course of 2020 and 2021, CSKT youth have taken part in a youth led public health awareness campaign with hopes to increase community and elder safety during the public health crisis. Michelle Mitchell, CSKT Tribal Education Department Head noted that CSKT youth worked with skilled mentors to develop, film, and share messages of strength, healing and safety across the reservation. Youth videos were then uploaded to the YouTube platform resulting in thousands of views and the sharing of an important message across the community.
The Tribal Youth Resource Center has had the opportunity to share about how many communities utilize digital media campaigns as a tool for youth and community outreach. The effective use of social media can create forums that engage and empower tribal youth. Campaigns such as the CSKT youth challenge have allowed local youth to strengthen existing skills, increase connections with peer mentors, and participate in technology-based outreach.
The CSKT recently was awarded a CTAS Purpose Area 8 Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court grant. Grant coordinator, Michelle Mitchell, shares that digital/media skills-building opportunities will be integrated into the newly funded Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court in conjunction with referral to treatment, cultural and restorative approaches.