Many children’s activities were killed by COVID restrictions

I’m a mother of 4. My children range from 1 to 12 years old. In the spring of 2020, my husband and I were just as confused, concerned, and shocked as the rest of the world. Within just a few weeks of the pandemic, officials, doctors, and parents across the nation realized that children weren't all that affected by COVID-19. Even better, we learned that the average age of death from COVID was 80 — which was above the average life expectancy. This was wonderful news. My family and I were relieved. The pandemic predictions proved to be well over the mark and the virus was not the plague many people feared it would be.

Despite this, certain areas remained locked down. Mask mandates were implemented. Social distancing, and even curfews were enacted while all the data displayed that COVID-19 mimicked the flu rather than Ebola. My family and I live in a red state. Our governor never imposed a mask mandate, nor did our city, yet schools, businesses, local government entities, and sports clubs continued to warn everyone not to gather in large groups or go in public without a mask.

My eldest was in the process of completing her 9th year of dancing with the St. Louis Ballet. She had performed in many shows and even danced with the world-famous Russian Ballet. Instead of moving classes outside, or distancing in the studio, her dance school moved to remote learning. There was no proper instruction, no individualized critiquing, or any room to witness improvement based on the class group. The recital was held remotely, and the next session’s classes were to be masked. No child would be allowed in the studio without a mask.

It was then that my daughter decided to quit. She couldn’t imagine trying to breathe through a mask while dancing. The routines were physically demanding enough. Some days the warm ups alone would leave young dancers breathless (without any face coverings).

Every children’s activity seemed to be doing this. Many admitted they knew children and even their parents weren’t generally at-risk, but continued doing it because it’s what everyone else was doing. It felt like we were living in a modern version of The Emperor’s New Clothes, only everyone was going along with serious life-altering practices instead. I often referred to it as the Government’s New Virus because the fear mongering tactics used to scare Americans out of their freedoms had been used before. We saw it with H1N1, bird flu, AIDS, and more.

I refused to mask my children or myself anywhere we went. We still hosted birthday parties and holiday events at our house and invited friends and family. The response was mixed. Some people felt relieved, others were put off.

By the summer of 2021 I was determined to allow my children a better sense of normalcy. I found a good horseback riding camp for my eldest and debated with the owner, asking her to drop her mask mandate. My youngest daughter was also eager to have fun with other children her age, so I signed her up for a camp that required me to sign a waiver freeing the organization from liability if she caught COVID and was assured that masks were not required. Then a week before camp, I was told that she would need a mask for bus rides between facilities due to the bus company’s policies. I was talked down to as if I were crazy, so I got a refund.

My 3-year-old son would have gone into sports throughout this time — since he is an active boy who loves to bounce, kick, and hit balls — but again, restrictions were everywhere. We saw babies in masks. Toddlers fighting to breathe freely. Children of all ages walked around muzzled as if they had rabies. It was like the whole world had gone crazy and we wanted nothing to do with it.

Some sports clubs started demanding that parent volunteers get the COVID vaccine the moment it was available. As soon as it was offered to children, plenty went that route for minors even though the side effects have proven to be much more serious for kids than the risk of COVID. Instead of supporting these instructions, my husband and I got a volleyball net, a soccer goal, T-ball set, and all the other sports equipment we could afford. We refrained from paying sports clubs and other children’s groups to restrict our children’s breathing or teach them to fear their own bodies. We found fun in our backyard, the way our grandparents used to and were no worse off. If anything, it was more enjoyable.

A lot of parents have shared similar experiences with me. Instead of fighting to unmask children, or debate medical rights, parents across the nation are happy to play sports with their kids in the comforts of their own space. We don’t have the time, money, or energy to deal with unnecessary restrictions and that is why youth programs are having issues finding participants now. Parents realized that we don’t need to support youth programs that didn’t support us, or our children’s rights.

Some will go back in time. Others, like me and my family, are supporting the companies that didn’t impose harmful restrictions — or at least removed them when data was presented to display how things really were. The programs that are pulling through had better long-term strategies and worked with everyone without vilifying those of us who didn’t just do whatever we were told.

So, I’m not concerned for the future of sports or the arts. I cannot forget how many children’s organizations mistreated everyone, and I will remain loyal to the few who remained open to all the information being released — not just the sensationalized version. Those are the youth activities my children deserve.

Photo credit: tientran0019 Pixabay license

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