Community Organizations Teens Started During Quarantine

Student Life

We sent out a survey to eight nonprofit organizations founded and run by teenagers this year, asking them to tell us, in their own words, all about what inspired them to start such big projects. We asked them to specify how they went about creating their platforms, how they run them now, and what they plan to do in the future. All of these responses come directly from the founders themselves.

Here's a reason you should read this article closely: learning how to organize projects like these is a great skill to advertise to colleges. Consider joining one of these organizations, or get inspired to start one of your own! Each of their website addresses and Instagram handles will be listed too, if you want to learn more or get in touch with them.

The COVID-19 pandemic might have messed up your year; your team sports were canceled, clubs, after school activities shut down, and many of your classes are moving slower over zoom. If it feels like you can do nothing to earn yourself college credit, or you're just smart and bored, worry not! There's still plenty you can do, even if you're stuck at home. Such as...

MedSoc Talk

MedSoc Talk (Medicine and Society Talk) is a student organization which publishes article that highlight the intersection between social factors and medicine. They reach out to medical experts, from high school athletic trainers to Nobel Prize laureates, to discover and publicize expert information relevant to the role of medicine in society and vice versa.

Instagram: @medsoctalkofficial

Website: www.medsoctalk.com

Who founded your organization? How, and why did you?

“I'm Sara Habibipour, a junior in high school from Palm Springs, California with a passion for medicine. In the future, I hope to become a physician.

I actually created MedSoc Talk after reading “The End of Epidemics” by Dr. Jonathan Quick; this book opened my eyes to how the West African culture heavily influenced the spread of the Ebola outbreak in 2014, and I soon became passionate about learning how these social factors can influence public health. I continued to research other similar topics, but, to my surprise, there weren't many resources to learn about these things, especially for young students looking to enter the medical field like myself.

Not many students know about how social factors (culture, socioeconomic status, race, etc.) influence health and enter the field blind to all the problems associated with these factors that exist, especially in the American healthcare system. After all, school doesn't teach us these things.

Soon after reading the book, I was able to shadow physicians at my local hospital and I witnessed these social factors and issues of health disparities coming to play in the real world. This gave me more motivation to educate myself and my peers on these issues so that hopefully one day when we're physicians, we'll be able to recognize these issues, push for better change, and advocate for the health of our patients no matter their background.”

What are your plans for the future?

“Recently, I started reaching out to Nobel Prize Laureates and world-renowned physicians and PhDs for their expertise on certain issues for our articles (which can be found on our website). In the future, I would love to continue conducting these interviews and bringing in expert points of views on issues and topics that need to be heard.

I would also love to continue our Specialty Sunday series where physicians of different specialties give insight into what their work looks like; long term, I hope to cover as many specialties as possible so that these videos can help give guidance to medical students wondering what specialty they want to pursue.

The last goal is to continue to grow our Instagram and website audience. I think of follower milestones in more short-term goals, so, right now, I'd like to reach 3,000 Instagram followers. But, ultimately, I want to reach as many students (medical and even non-medical) as possible. To become a website member and join the awesome community of students we have so far, visit our website and enter your email! This allows you to comment on and like our articles, as well as receive our monthly newsletter with awesome opportunities!”

The Latinx Journal

The Latinx Journal is working hard to fight underrepresentation in Latin America. The media portrays Latin America in a way that does not show its true talent and importance in the world, and The Latinx Journal are here to change that. They post about significant events in Latin America that need to be shared with a wider audience as well as other information to get to know the continent.

Instagram: @thelatinxjournal

Website: thelatinxjournal.com

Who founded your organization? How, and why did you?

Katrina: “Growing up, I always envisioned Latin America as a poor and not advanced continent. When I learned I was going to move to Chile, I decided to do my school project on that country to get to know it. The website we were supposed to use for the project showed a picture of people living in houses made of tin and cardboard, so that is how I portrayed the continent.

Now, after living in Chile for 3 years, I can say that my perspective has changed immensely. I got to experience living in Latin America and discover all of its hidden gems, such as the beautiful tourist attractions of Patagonia, the highly inspirational people such as Pablo Neruda, the harsh history Chile faced such as the Pinochet era, and more. I also got to live a normal day-to-day life living in Latin America, and now I view the country as a secret and magical place that no longer should be secret.

After moving back to the United States, I shared my amazing stories and experiences of living in Chile and visiting other countries in Latin America with my friends, most of whom had not even left the country, and they could not believe it.

How is a continent this important and incredible not talked about as much? Why is the media not discussing these crucial events happening in Latin America? That's when I knew it was up to me to become the media, and share the stories of Latin America with the globe. The Latinx Journal was born in August 2020, and from there we have continued to spread awareness of Latin America to our growing international audience.”

Carolina: “I have lived in Latin America on and off again my whole life. Being born in Mexico and from Colombia, I have had my fair share of experiencing Latin America for what it is, and seeing other people's perspectives of it as well. My Colombian family and family friends alone have made so many incredible changes to the continent, such as starting an organization to help a small-town neighborhood on the beach with plastic pollution, and hosting fundraisers to assist a group of Colombian dancers to stay protected from the dangers of the streets.

Yet, I feel like the story of Latin America is not heard. The media focuses on Europe, North America, Asia, etc immensely, but I felt as though Latin America's stories are only occasionally tossed into the air. I also wanted to continue to grow these organizations and fundraisers and get an international audience's awareness on these topics and more, so that's when I teamed up with my co-founder Katrina to start the Latinx Journal.

Not only have we gotten to share these projects I've mentioned with our international followers, but we have been consistently posting about important news in Latin America and sharing important, but not shared enough, facts about the continent. We have even inspired others to write articles for our website on this continent to gain more awareness. With our platform we are hoping to reach the attention of anyone who wants to make a change in the world, starting by doing something as simple as viewing our posts.”

What are your plans for the future?

The Latinx Journal has three main goals. The first is to start a documentary series where we interview people from different countries on their view of Latin America. The second is to continue to gain more regular writers for their website. Lastly, they want to expand their reach by growing their Instagram to 2,000+ followers.

Bridge to Literacy

Bridge to Literacy is an international, student-led nonprofit that fosters a love of language through literacy in children from underserved communities around the world in Kenya, Honduras, Ukraine, Mexico, Gaza, and China.

A President’s Volunteer Service Award-certified organization with 70+ volunteers from across the United States, Canada, Egypt, and Nepal, Bridge to Literacy provides students with access to greater opportunities while fostering meaningful relationships that transcend borders. Above all, Bridge to Literacy offers a source of joy to underserved students at a time when human connection is hard to come by.

Instagram: @bridgetoliteracy

Website: bridgetoliteracy.com

Who founded your organization? How, and why did you?

Elizabeth: “Bridge to Literacy began with a bee. Not the insect kind, but spelling bees; more specifically, my experience as a competitor in the National Spelling Bee in 2018. As grateful as I was for this opportunity, I realized that there were millions of kids who don’t even have access to literacy-based competitions, let alone all the doors that mastering literacy opened. Additionally, as the child of Russian-Immigrants who were forced to learn English with almost no guidance, I knew that it was time to get to work, and partnered with Gary to make this vision a reality.”

Likewise, Gary, an avid reader, award-winning debater, and fellow first-generation American, also wanted to create an organization, to give every child the opportunity to build a brighter future through literacy no matter where they were from or what their financial situation was like.

What are your plans for the future?

“We envision Bridge to Literacy as an organization that continues to expand its impact in underserved communities throughout South America and Asia. Especially with our partner Spring Sprouts, a U.S-based non-profit that modernizes classrooms and curriculums in rural China.

We plan to reach 100+ students internationally by the end of 2021 and 100+ volunteers by mid-2021. We plan to introduce volunteer-initiatives that fuse culture and literacy, including a book review for the ESL books in our literacy kits.

When COVID-19 fades, we plan to establish “learning labs” in Kenya and Honduras using technology resources sponsored by a grant from the University of Iowa and U.S Department of State.”

Teen Health 101

Teen Health 101 is an online student- led initiative that creates reliable resources about health, fitness, and science to educate and inform the youth. Teen Health 101’s mission is to combat the spread of misinformation/misleading facts and be a platform for the youth to find simple and accurate information about all things health. Topics that they frequently cover across all of our media platforms include but are not limited to mental health, nutrition, and fitness.

Instagram: @teenhealth201

Website: teenhealth.org

Who founded your organization? How, and why did you?

“Teen Health 101 originally started as a personal blog under the name of ‘Spice of Life’ back in 2018. I wanted to inform the youth about issues in a way that was easily understood, so I created a blog where I would write about the news from a teen’s perspective to make it easy for other teens to understand. The blog took a break for most of 2019 as I focused on school and my competitive swim career.

At the end of 2019, I realized that I should change my lifestyle to a more healthy and balanced one. I still swam, but I never took the initiative to do anything outside the practice, and although I wasn’t gaining weight, I wanted to tone my body and develop healthier eating habits and ideals. I often use the excuse that ‘I swim, so I burn a lot of calories, so I don’t need to watch what I eat’. I spent the next 6 months eating healthier, exercising, and watching my steps. Even before quarantine, I was doing Chloe Ting workouts and going on walks outside.

Upon reflecting on my personal fitness journey, I realize some youths are naive and lost in their ambition to improve their bodies. Chloe Ting uses titles such as ‘Get Abs in 2 Weeks’ or ‘Toned Arms in 10 Mins’, and I now know that is not possible without diet and a calorie deficit, but some believe it, even though there is a disclaimer written by Ting in her video description that those results do not always happen.

In addition, I would see apple cider potions all over TikTok claiming to be the best way to lose fat, which is incorrect. I decided to create a platform/organization that provides teens with accurate information about all things regarding health in a way that would make it easy to understand, such as using social media graphics, podcasts, digital magazines, and online blog posts/articles. That is how Teen Health 101 was born in July 2020.”

What are your plans for the future?

“Some future goals I have for the platform is to grow to 10K followers on Instagram and gain some established sponsors.”

Panda Learning

Panda Learning is a student-run organization that is focused around STEM topics, and take a huge interest in teaching kids from grades 5-12 about STEM. They dive into topics about all fields related to STEM, and have programs running on an alternative seasonal basis to ensure students have time to prepare for school as well.

Instagram: @pandalearning_1825

Website: pandalearning.wixsite.com

Who founded your organization? How, and why did you?

Pragna: “My name is Pragna and I am one of the co-founders of Panda Learning. My partner is Joshika and she is the other founder of our organization. As current juniors in high school, during the pandemic, there has been an evident decrease in learning opportunities for many students, ranging from a lack of in-person tutoring services to a lack of face-to-face teaching/connections.

Finding this as an opportunity to help students that are just like us and younger, we started this organization before going into our junior years to allow many kids to have an opportunity to once again find a path of fun and informative learning they can follow during this critical time.”

What are your plans for the future?

“We are hoping to raise funds in the future to help schools in need of funding or supplies due to our organization being mainly an STEM-based one. We also hope to be able to make a website domain that is just for us as well as branch out and have bigger partnerships with higher level organizations, mainly to allow more chances of opportunities for many more students and kids.”

Status Neuro

Status Neuro focuses on neuroplasticity and mental health, and strives to help educate others on how we can re-wire our brains through recognition and growth, as well as bringing awareness to these topics.

Instagram: none yet!

Website: statusneuro.com

Who founded your organization? How, and why did you?

Dhrithi: “My name is Dhrithi Manjunath and I started this project because making a direct impact, especially through education, is something that I strongly value. I have first handedly experienced mental health struggles and I have also been able to pull myself out of them. I am a very empathetic person and know how it feels to be down, so I wanted to help others who were like me and I wanted to shed light and teach them about these topics as I believe they are beneficial for everyone.”

What are your plans for the future?

“My goals for my platform are to ultimately reach and help as many people as I can. I would love to build and expand my team as I run solo right now and possibly work with professionals in healthcare and organizations to continue to educate others. “

The Daily Dosage

The Daily Dosage is a student-led organization that seeks to build a community between students interested in medicine, ranging from middle school to college students. Through this community, students are able to meet like-minded people and gain access to a multitude of opportunities within medicine.

Instagram: @thedailydosage.20

Website: thedailydosage20.wixsite.com

Who founded your organization? How, and why did you?

Riya: “At The Daily Dosage, I strive to foster a community which is led by my passion for the medical field. I hope to educate the common audience about various medical topics ranging from occupations to diseases and awareness.

I was inspired to create The Daily Dosage during quarantine as I wanted to educate the audience about the various medical discoveries being made alongside COVID-19 in common terms, for all to understand (our blog is translatable for different languages as well!) Whether you are looking for a place to chat, or to create works related to the medical field, The Daily Dosage hosts a space for it all. Through this organization, people of all backgrounds, experiences, and ages can convene in the safe space we hold.”

What are your plans for the future?

"We have a student-led blog that focuses on 6 key aspects in medicine: Occupations, Diseases, Awareness, Lessons, TV Portrayals, and Interviews. We also provide educational worksheets that help simplify complex anatomy and lesson plans for personal use. We also have an online Discord community, which anyone interested can join! In the future, we plan to expand this community to reach all corners of the world!”

We have a student-led blog that focuses on 6 key aspects in medicine: Occupations, Diseases, Awareness, Lessons, TV Portrayals, and Interviews. We also provide educational worksheets that help simplify complex anatomy and lesson plans for personal use. We also have an online Discord community, which anyone interested can join! In the future, we plan to expand this community to reach all corners of the world!”

We can if She can

We can if She Can focuses on spreading feminism, empowering women, and distributing feminine hygiene products to low-income women.

Instagram: Instagram coming soon!

Website: wecanifshecan.com

Who founded your organization? How, and why did you?

Emma: “My name is Emma Dulin and I am a 10th grader from North Carolina. I started my blog, WeCanIfSheCan with the hopes of exploring the feminist movement and the many aspects of it that bring women together to do great things, while also under covering some hard truths to it. I wanted to create a collaborative and inclusive space for young women to explore writing and all issues concerning the next generation.”

What are your plans for the future?

“I am also creating a project, The Pink Bin Project, to distribute feminine hygiene products to low-income women. I really had no idea that girls my age, or of any age really had to struggle with finding period products every month, or would miss school and just feel embarrassed about themselves. I came across this issue after simply watching an anonymous YouTube video, which drove me to create an action project to help low-income women not have to worry about receiving these products.”

“I would like to have lots of writers for my project who are also passionate about these issues and writing. I am also hoping to have much more “branches” for The Pink Bin Project nationally, with millions of period products distributed to women.”

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Sparhawk Mulder

Sparhawk Mulder is a senior in highschool in Beverly Massachusetts. He works as a math tutor, writing TA, math tutor tutor, and karate teacher during the year, and occasionally as all of those in Sikkim, India . He also writes bi-weekly for MedSoc Talk, conducting interviews exploring the various roles of medical professionals in society.