My name is Kavisha Shah and I am a second year active who joined to help close the opportunity gap and provide our community with great, strong women. This is close to my heart as I am a pediatrician and believe that each child should have an equal opportunity to succeed.

The Junior League of Minneapolis has made it our mission to combat the Opportunity Gap, and 2020 has given us a chance to put our ideas into action. The Opportunity Gap is the disparity of opportunities, experiences, and resources across various socioeconomic statuses as well as an inequality between different races and ethnicities. The year 2020 has been a challenging year full of social injustices, the loss of influential leaders, and of course, COVID-19 (or “Coronavirus”). COVID-19 has significantly changed every aspect of our lives and in turn has made us adaptive to our ever-changing world. 

Our League has many opportunities to be a pillar for our city and help provide resources for families. Our September kick-off General Membership Meeting (our monthly meetings where our membership gets together for training, League updates, and socializing) shed light on many of our community’s issues. The center of the meeting was a panel discussion surrounding the Opportunity Gap featuring Jazlynn Paige, a School Psychologist and Special Education Consultant and Keisha Davis, Vice Principal at Birch Grove Elementary. Our membership learned about working to create more equitable environments and systems in education, our community’s educational disparities and how to advocate for and support educational equity, and how to become more racially conscious.

Throughout this pandemic, it is impossible to ignore that the low-income community within our country has been impacted the most by this virus. This is most likely due to multi-generational living, small spaces, lack of protective gear, being classified as essential workers, limited access to health care, and high-risk categories/factors for COVID-19. Virtual learning will create greater disadvantages for children who have working parents, lack reliable internet and/or technology, rely on school lunches for their meals, or need extra learning assistance. This opportunity gap will lead to long-term effects on children’s education and development as distance and virtual learning will negatively impact this community at disproportionate rates. 

As a physician, I strongly believe that each of us must take personal responsibility to protect our community by social distancing, limiting large gatherings, and wearing protective gear when in public. As the fall and winter season comes along, the spread of Coronavirus may worsen as we also battle the flu. We can be representatives of science and protect our community by continuing to wear masks when in public spaces and socially distancing. By taking these measures, we can protect the most vulnerable members of our society.