A drawing by Asha McCormick of Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris in front of an American flag.

Letters to Kamala: What the vice president-elect’s victory means to these Pittsburgh-area Black and Brown girls

'Dream with ambition'
Essay by Arathena McCormick

I vividly remember the moment I first heard that Joe Biden had chosen Kamala Harris to run for vice president on his ticket. My mother excitedly told my sisters and me that Kamala Harris, a half Indian, half Black woman, could possibly be our future vice president. I was thrilled to hear the news. In the history of the United States, there has never been a woman as vice president, let alone a woman of color, and she is half Indian like me! I remember telling my friends who were also biracial, and we were all equally excited.

Patton Manion, 6, of Mt. Lebanon, chats with his therapist in a quiet corner his parents have set up for him. Telehealth has helped maintain continuity during the COVID-19 shutdown. (Courtesy photo)

COVID-19 interrupted childhood routines — including mental health visits. Families turn to telehealth for continuity.

Before the pandemic, 9-year-old Landon Whitewood had a packed schedule that included Cub Scouts, swimming lessons, karate and hanging out with friends. Adopted from the foster care system as a toddler, his mothers Deb and Susan Whitewood of South Fayette have also prioritized time for trauma therapy through Three Rivers Adoption Council. He also participates in family-focused therapy and art therapy through Wesley Family Services three days a week. When Pittsburgh began to shut down as it faced the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, all of these activities ceased for the Whitewood family — except for therapy. They knew that it would be absolutely essential to have access to mental health services during an international crisis.

Annalise, 7, and Carys Mehlo, 3, of Bellevue paint rainbows on their windows overlooking the Ohio River Valley. Mother Alisa notes that it is not window paint, but they can scrape it off later. "It's complete anarchy around here."

These resilient Pittsburgh-area kids find ways to connect and spread joy during a time of COVID-19 turmoil

Iconic Pittsburgher Fred Rogers encouraged people to “look for the helpers” in scary situations. As Pittsburgh, along with the rest of the world, pauses to practice social distancing to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus, kids across the metro region find themselves out of school. Playgrounds are surrounded in caution tape; libraries and museums are closed; and play dates are strongly discouraged. Who, then, are the helpers? Obviously, there are our first responders, our medical workers and our other essential workers.