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OutLoud keeping kids connected through shutdown

OutLoud North Bay has been running virtual programming through its social media pages to keep connected with its volunteers during the province-wide lockdown. 

Seth Compton, the founder of OutLoud, says he’s trying to engage his volunteer base with activities to promote good mental health. 

“I try to implement things that helped me out during my darker times,” Compton said, citing his lived experience with anxiety and depression. 

Compton opened OutLoud this past summer as a way to engage the area’s 2SLGBTQ+ community. Its space on McIntyre Street has served as an after-school hangout for children to participate in themed, stress-relieving activities. 

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When the province-wide shutdown was announced last week, Compton says his phone immediately blew up with volunteers wondering what that meant for OutLoud.

As a result, Compton has been providing daily challenges via Facebook for volunteers to participate in, ranging from workouts to crafts. 

“A lot of kids, their anxiety has elevated,” Compton said.  “Right now, not a lot of kids feel safe at home.”

Compton says some of his members at OutLoud visit the space on a regular basis to talk with him, or some of the other volunteers who offer advice.

As a replacement for that interaction, Compton has also been holding regular Facebook Live chats for members to join and have a safe conversation. 

“It’s been hard because I know that some of these kids aren’t supported at home. Some of them suffer from anxiety, depression, self-harm,” he noted. “It’s those kids who really have me worried.”

Compton, who has kids of his own, offers some advice to parents who are back in lockdown with their kids. 

“It’s time to connect with your kids. Put that effort into showing your kids that you care,” he said. 

While the two-week shutdown has temporarily shut OutLoud’s doors, the safe space appears to have big things on the horizon. 

Compton is in the process of registering OutLoud as a charity, meaning it will be easier to receive donations. Those donations will help the safe space move to a larger location that could hold more kids. 

“I’m counting on 2021 being big,” Compton finished. 

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