Social isolation is a significant problem for many young people today.
The degree to which large numbers of people feel isolated, lonely, or lacking in companionship has been described as an epidemic.
A survey of 20,000 U.S. adults conducted by CIGNA in 2018 produced some alarming findings concerning how lonely many people feel.
Nearly half (46%) of Americans indicated that they sometimes or always feel alone, and 53% say they do not have meaningful in-person social interactions on a daily basis.
Perhaps most alarming is that Generation-Z was found to be the loneliest generation, indicative of social isolation problem being even more pronounced among younger people.
At a time when young consumers are expecting the companies they patronize to engage in socially responsible activities, The Hershey Company has introduced a programme aimed at helping to fight social isolation among young people.
Hershey has made a commitment to help address the problem as part of its Heartwarming Project, an initiative dedicated to helping teens, parents and teachers create more inclusive communities.
As part of the Heartwarming Project, Hershey worked with its partners We.org and Boys and Girls Clubs to identify teens who were already interested in or taking action on the issue to attend the company’s Makers of Good Teen Summit.
The Summit covers a number of strategies for reducing social isolation, including encouraging more personal interaction, writing handwritten notes of appreciation to others, and discussing the appropriate uses of social media.
In conjunction with the Summit, Hershey has been awarding S$250 grants for teens to start of advance inclusion project in their schools and communities.
In describing the decision to focus on social isolation, Jeff King, Hershey’s Senior Director for Global Sustainability and Social Impact cites the importance of the problem among young consumers along with the company’s historic focus on helping children to succeed.
King states, “Our founder, Milton Hershey, believed that youth are the makers of the future. As a company that was built on creating connections, we believe we have a unique opportunity to help teens create a future of social inclusion.”