Look for the Helpers: How Aspen Challenge Participants are Continuing to Serve their Communities in a Time of Social Distancing

‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ This is something Fred Roger’s mother used to encourage him to do when he was young and feeling distressed about life’s trials.

With at least 297 million Americans being called to shelter in place as of the writing on this post, the Aspen Challenge team was curious about ways in which we could still be engaged as ‘helpers’ in our communities while following CDC guidelines and continuing to keep ourselves and those around us safe. To find answers, we decided to turn to a group of helpers and leaders we admire and know best—students from Louisville and Miami who are currently participating in the 2020 Aspen Challenge program. We asked them to tell us how they are continuing to safely support and contribute to the well-being of their communities during this unprecedented time of social distancing.

From checking in on loved ones to upping their chore contributions at home, it was no surprise that Aspen Challenge students are as determined as ever to help make life a little easier and a little more joyful for those around them.

Our call for examples received more than 40 submissions from students and teams as a whole. While each submission was worthy of the spotlight, we have highlighted a few below. The submissions were edited for clarity and length.

When the Mayor’s Office of Globalization wanted to get the word out about how to prevent Coronavirus to help people who don’t speak English, they contacted our school [which is comprised of newly resettled immigrants from all over the world] because we had created a connection with the Globalization office through our Aspen Challenge Team. We recorded videos in different languages for the office.

  • Newcomer Academy, Louisville, Kentucky

Whenever I go out for a run, I always try to go earlier in the morning or closer to the evening since my neighborhood has a lot of older people who like to walk around. I’ll cross to the other sidewalk if I see people in front of me so as to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

  • Trishna, Fern Creek High School, Louisville, Kentucky

My family has volunteered to buy/run errands for the elderly or disabled population of our neighborhood. We’ve bought groceries and are able to take dogs on walks and get mail.

  • Molly, Fern Creek High School, Louisville, Kentucky

My family has ordered delivery foods from local Asian restaurants in my community who were negatively impacted by the rising stigma around Asian Americans due to the origins of the coronavirus.

  • Maral, Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High, Miami, Florida

I’m posting videos on Instagram of myself doing the announcements because I used to do them in school. I am doing these videos to give some sort of normalcy to homeschooling. 

  • Giacomo, Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High, Miami, Florida

My family and I have been volunteering for a local hospital since my mother worked there. We started making COVID-19 survival packs and donating them to the homeless population in our area.

  • Tsephania, Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School, Miami, Florida

When my teachers came to my house to deliver a tablet that I can use for distance learning, I saw how tired and hungry they were, so I ran inside to prepare snacks for them.

  • Marisol, Dorothy M. Wallace COPE Center, Miami, Florida

 My family and I are sharing information about food resources within my community for those who may be facing food insecurity.

  • Franchesca, Dorothy M. Wallace COPE Center, Miami, Florida

I’ve been using my social media to help raise awareness on some of the positive aspects of COVID-19—like the impacts these lockdowns are having on our environment—as a way to shine some light in the dark.

  • Nicole, Miami Palmetto Senior High School, Miami, Florida

My family grocery shopped for two of my mama’s nurse friends to ensure that they had enough food for their families while they were working 12-hour shifts. 

  • Lacey, Miami Palmetto Senior High, Miami, Florida

My mom and I are helping schools who have students in poverty and kids who can’t afford to have food at this time. 

  • Matt, Miami Sunset Senior High School, Miami, Florida