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Teen Spotlight: Covid NineTEEN Project

Here at the Bitter Fruit Review, we are constantly being inspired by great teens who are using their creativity and knowledge to inspire young people across America. Our Staff Contributor, Olivia Madreperla, recently got into contact with Sarah Shapiro at the Covid NineTEEN Project, who works to bring art and literature into the homes of hundreds of elementary-aged kids. Check out her experience below:

by Olivia Madreperla, Staff Contributor

These past few weeks have been difficult for most as we have been confined to our homes and, most controversially, our families. However, some have found the implications of stuck-at-home life to have more disastrous effects than those of us, like me, who are sitting at home watching copious amounts of Netflix. So, instead of taking this time to lounge about like yours truly, a duo of high school students decided to turn their time of sedentary studies into a jubilant celebration of knowledge (as one of my teachers likes to say). As they are both the children of educators, both girls saw first hand the difficulties many are having with homeschooling. Many parents transition lucidly between chef, chauffeur, and therapist on a daily basis, but now they are finding themselves stepping into yet another role as child educator. For many parents who are also working from home, it is an arduous task to force a child in elementary school so focus on a screen for hours at a time. In addition, it is equally difficult for younger students to adapt to a distanced learning format.

However, fear not, partners Skye and Sarah have created an outlet for elementary level students around the world to gain free access to tutoring, exercise classes, and many other fun, educational activities that allow parents a moment of reprieve from their duties. Despite only launching last week, their operation has garnered the attention of hundreds and caters to 300 kids internationally. The positive affirmation that resulted from the launching of their service is a great testament to the necessity of their work during this time. I got the chance to talk to Sarah Shapiro a little bit about what inspired her to start this project, and I found her answer to be as moving as the project itself: “My mom is a third grade teacher, so teaching is something that has always come natural to me and been an integral part of my life. I essentially grew up in a classroom, and I spent more time at school helping my mom with lesson plans than I did at my own house. Because of my background in education, I was inspired to use my free time to create a beneficial program for my community and society as a whole.” In short, she is not only assisting her community, but finding an outlet to cultivate her professional talents for the good of the entire world.

When talking to her about what her favorite subjects to help with were, she promptly answered that History and English were her favorites. However, she was quick to mention that she also leads a “Harry Potter Read Aloud” for those who wish to join. In these events her students as well as she dress up as different characters and she reads long passages from the books. I was particularly intrigued by this aspect of her project as I was and still am a huge Harry Potter fan. After she mentioned such, we went on a quick tangent about the wonders of Harry Potter as well as the Percy Jackson series which actually introduced me to my forever love of reading. Sarah also shares a close relationship with the parents of her students as she often receives adorable images of her students either working with her or dressed up for her various Harry Potter readings.

Although the “Harry Potter Read Alouds” are one of Sarah’s favorite activities, she listed her all time favorite as “the Escape Room.” As she described it to me, “the Escape Room” provides various logic based puzzles for kids to solve along with various teen mentors that are assigned to different groups of kids. Although it is not ideal that we all cannot flock our local escape rooms, Sarah has provided the perfect alternative for her students that mixes old fashioned fun and educational puzzles for the ultimate Friday evening! Other favorites of hers include Beginner Filmmaking, Little Ninjas Martial Arts, At Home Science, and Epic LEGO Challenge.

As far as spreading the word about Covidnineteen Sarah says that most parents find her through their promotional flyers on Facebook groups for parents and educators. As far as signing up for these fun-filled virtual excursions, you can visit their website to sign up for one on one tutoring sessions or for the various activities previously mentioned based on interest and need. A link will be provided below if you would like to check it out!

Finally, of course, I had to ask our favorite question here at the Bitter Fruit Review: “What is your favorite fruit?”. Sarah shrewdly answered mango, which I believe is the only correct choice. Mango is the perfect combination of sweet and tangy that settles on your tongue like a moist blanket of goodness. In addition to the impeccable flavor, Sarah and I agreed that mangoes also have a legendary color that reminds one of a vibrant sunset. If you would like to learn a little bit more about her project, you can check them out here.

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