The Evidence that Proves Student Leadership Can Help End Social Isolation!

We are excited to share with you the results of our newly completed year-long research study funded by the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, a study that took place in 10 New York City public middle schools over the 2018-2019 school year.

The data we collected proves that our wrap-around initiatives, our teacher’s curriculum, and our engaging student-led activities are working to raise student awareness about social isolation, build student’s voice, and deepen the effects of social-emotional learning.

We know the need to belong and to feel connected with others is a fundamental human expression that is arguably more pronounced and consequential in adolescents.

We know that having social connections is related to better physical health and, conversely, feeling isolated has negative consequences for health and well-being. According to a 2018 CIGNA HEALTH survey of 20,000 U.S. adults, feelings of social isolation and loneliness have reached epidemic levels across all age groups. Young adults (aged 18-22) reported the highest rates of loneliness and feelings of social isolation. According to former Surgeon General Vivek Murphy, “loneliness has been found to be associated with a reduction in life-space, similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and it’s greater than the impact on life span of obesity.”

These facts are alarming and yet preventable. Beyond Differences’ approach to ending social isolation has allowed us to examine this public health issue as an opportunity for change and not simply as a crisis to be accepted as “that’s just the way things are.”

We hope you will take a moment and read the Executive Summary of our New York City research study and, when you do, help us double down on our efforts to spread awareness about the impact of social isolation on youth.

While complex and nuanced, addressing and preventing social isolation is doable — we just need to continue providing young people with the resources and support they need to lead the charge!