“I am afraid peer pressure will discourage children from wearing masks. I am feeling nervous about sending my girls back to school unless everyone is trying to be as safe as possible. Is there anything that we can do?”
A Contest to Inspire Kids
An inspiration struck us: We could design and run a youth art contest and get kids to design cartoons or drawings with a message and submit them to win prizes! We quickly worked through the details of how this could work, including developing a flyer, a facebook Event, and winning categories. We would have winners in elementary, middle and high school with prizes for the top three. Each prize would be matched with a gift card for their teacher. We felt like that way, we would encourage personal creativity but also encourage a spirit of charity. Along the way, we also hoped to see more prestige attached to wearing a mask and more positive peer pressure working to produce a more uniform adherence to the necessary policy in this time of COVID-19.
To Wear or Not to Wear
Masks, to wear or not to wear? That has been the question for months! Since the novel coronavirus was identified and began its insidious spread, masks have been the center of swirling controversy, made more difficult by initial conflicting instructions from scientists. While March may have seen some doubt about the effectiveness of masks in controlling the outbreak, by April evidence was solidly on the side of mask-wearing by all since “Your mask protects me and my mask protects you.”
Efficacy of Social-Distancing and Masks
It is a given that homemade face coverings do not offer fail-proof protection, but coupled with social distancing, the transmission of COVID drops dramatically, to the point where it becomes manageable in community. Scientists have stated that if every last one of us adhered to the mask advice faithfully, we would see a definite decrease in transmission rates with the subsequent decline in total numbers.
For now, there are far too many adults and children who are not wearing masks. In the south, many continue to gather in churches, at funerals, and other social gatherings, without masks, sometimes even singing and physically greeting. While lawmakers and politicians are reluctant to face the outcry if they call out group gatherings of a religious nature, individual participants need to realize this behavior prolongs the pandemic and makes all of us less safe.
Going Back to School Safely
As school opening approaches, we find ourselves with no really good options. We see pediatricians and the CDC saying that children need to be in school. We see community transmission numbers climbing daily. We see hospitals becoming overwhelmed. Teachers, parents and children are faced with impossible decisions.
The "Cool Factor"
One thing we can all do to help make this current situation better is to find ways to encourage children to wear masks. While they may not suffer from COVID-19 as much as older adults, they can also get it and transmit it. So having an art contest designed to increase the “cool” factor of masks, is a win-win for all!
Once we launched the contest, our local newspaper, The Kingsport Times-News, provided front-page coverage. In an article by reporter Holly Viers, they detailed the contest criteria in an article titled, “How do you get students…Behind the Masks?” The caption to the photo and artwork explained, “With two daughters attending Kingsport City Schools, Subhashini Vashisth has been concerned about young people not wearing masks. With that concern in mind, Vashisth and Joy Eastridge decided that an art contest would be a creative way to help children view mask-wearing more positively.”
Viers went on to quote further, “If kids can see that wearing masks can be helpful and can keep them in school, allow them to go to school, I think that’s the message that we want to transmit. If everyone will wear masks faithfully, then life can resume with some kind of normalcy.”
Children Can Be Leaders
Let’s empower our kids to use their personal creativity to persuade others to wear masks. Sometimes children can be our real leaders, especially if adults are torn by outside issues such as politics. Art is a heart language that speaks loudly to all people of any age.
So share this with your friends, family, schools, and encourage young people you know to participate in this fun and important art contest!
Let’s Mask Up to bring COVID down!
If you or your child or your child’s teacher want to learn more about COVID-19 and have a book to help start conversations, download the free children’s book, Conquering COVID-19.