Shirley Edgerton

Shirley Edgerton, founder of the Rites of Passage + Empowerment Program, is kicking off virtual support sessions next week, to help teens manage coronavirus pandemic stress.

PITTSFIELD — Local leaders will kick off a program next week designed to help teens manage stress and isolation because of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.

The Rites of Passage + Empowerment Program (ROPE) and the Women of Color Giving Circle of the Berkshires will start the first session of a virtual well-being series for teens ages 13 to 18 at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The sessions will continue every other Tuesday on Zoom. 

Shirley Edgerton, founder both organizations, said in a statement that the lockdowns have "taken a toll."

"We want them to know that we are here, we care about their well-being and we’re listening,” Edgerton said.

Charell McKenzie, a licensed clinical social worker and ROPE mentor, will lead the sessions. 

McKenzie, who owns Community First Therapy and Consulting LLC, said it is important to help guide teens through the emotional challenges, since, for youths, "social distancing has turned into social isolation."

She said the sessions will give teens a place where they can "safely get together, virtually, and put into words some of the emotions they may have been feeling while developing healthy, coping tools. I believe that out of these tools, the most important may be connection.”

The Berkshire United Way and the Berkshire County COVID-19 Adaptation Fund also are supporting the program.

To register in advance

Heather Bellow can be reached at or 413-329-6871. On Twitter @BE_hbellow.