Supporting Community via Social Media
By Shruti Vadada
Using proceeds from a GoFundMe campaign that attracted, among other donors, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, one youth group donated 200 masks and 400 medical gowns to a nursing home.
Another youth organization has partnered with several public libraries on Long Island to teach seniors, via Zoom, how to stream music and TV shows, use social media and other lessons in tech.
Yet another group of young people has designed a platform for their peers to share everything from favorite recipes to personal stories of how they are managing life during a pandemic.
Those are a few examples of student-run organizations that have formed during a pandemic to meet some of the needs that people have right now.
“Quarantine has opened up a lot of free time to write and get inspired,” said Sneha Singhi, a junior at Long Island’s Herricks High School and co-founder of Young Poets Unite. “It’s a student-led program for poetry lovers that showcases poems written by teenagers.”
Here’s a poem from one of those writers:
The mask and gloves
Now shield our body
We stay six feet from everybody
We do not recognize
Unless we observe the eyes
Of those who stand across
… because when you are alone,
You realize it is actually quite exhausting … The quietness isn’t fine
Virtual Music Makers, a group also devoted to the arts, hosts online concerts. There has been a range of performers, including horn-players and percussionists. The events are streamed live on their YouTube channel and all funds raised are donated to organizations such as The United Way of New York City.
“It’s amazing taking part in a musical experience virtually run by students,” said violinist Stephanie Chan, also a Herricks High junior. “And it’s a great opportunity for students to perform and do what they love best.” Chan performed Giovanni Battista Viotti ‘s Concerto No. 23 in G Major, a violin solo.
Asmita Mittal’s previous experience helping her grandparents navigate the digital world influenced her decision to launch Teens Teach Technology, which has partnered with public libraries in Cold Spring Harbor, Williston Park and Valley Stream.
“Especially since this is a time of social isolation, we need to stay connected to friends and family,” said Mittal, a junior at Long Island’s Syosset High School.
The teens teach seniors how to make social media accounts, post content, contact other people, download applications, and stream music and television shows. “Working with the elderly is a really awarding experience, since they have done so much in life. And it’s important to give back,” Mittal added.
“We have gathered members from New Jersey, Texas, and California and have received recognition from legislator Josh Lazafan,” said Mittal, adding that she is humbled by and proud of the work.
So is Esther Min, founder and director of Senior Assisting Pals, which got millionaire businessman Mark Cuban’s attention via email. He provided the 400 medical gowns for that nursing home.
“Our community has seen deaths for over 35 percent of seniors over the age of 75 and I wanted to spread awareness and do whatever I could to help,” said Min, a Herricks High junior.
Alison Park, co-founder of Living 6 Feet Apart, wanted to spread a different kind of awareness. She started the group after some girls dining near her at Three Brothers Pizzeria & Restaurant in Bethpage, N.Y. called Park the C-word, a racial slur for Asian Americans. They suggested she had the virus, which President Trump himself has called “kung flu,” which many consider racist.
“I wanted to step up and form a supportive environment for others who may have gone through similar situations,” the Herricks High junior said, of the organization, which aims to spread positivity.
These are among the messages on Living 6 Feet Apart’s Instagram thread:
Hello, lovely people of the internet! Whether you’ve fully occupied your time or have nothing on your hands, keep in mind that it’s been a long time since the world has faced this much chaos. Be self-aware, give yourself realistic expectations, and be your own cheerleader. –Arlene Grace Nagtalon
Quarantine has made me really appreciate the daily interactions I used to have. A tip I have to be more productive is trying to create some sort of schedule to manage your time over the summer! – Prableen Kaur
“I helped to start this organization to spread awareness,” Park said, “and help people feel less alone during these dark times.”