When the pandemic first began, and we were told that we would miss school for two weeks, I let out one of the few sighs among the many, many cheers that filled the hallways. I knew I would miss my friends and I knew that when quarantine began I would feel a profound longing for a community. With this in mind, sitting in my history class, I had an idea. I would gather a community of teenagers from all around the world, and together we would embark on an original and collaborative project that would not only create an exemplary primary source for future generations, but develop skill sets amongst participants, and create a lasting and exciting community.
The Covideo Project is a worldwide youth initiative to document life during the COVID-19 pandemic through compiled video footage from around the world. We currently have over 100 participants from over 30 different countries and 45 specific locations including Amsterdam, Auckland, Austin, TX, Bangalore, Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Bethesda, MD, Bloemfontein, Boston, MA, Budapest, Hungary, Chesières, Chicago, IL, Dallas, Texas, Dubai, Heidelberg, Issaquah, WA, Istanbul, Lagos, Los Angeles, CA, Moscow, New Delhi, Newark, CT, Ontario, Park City, UT, Rome, Ruidoso, NM, São Paulo, Seattle, WA, Tokyo, Yangon, Washington, D.C., and Westchester, NY.
We create video compilations on how the pandemic affects the lives of communities from the youth perspective, portraying changes to our routines, communities, and world views during what has most certainly been a turbulent time.
Since March, we have been actively documenting our experiences with hopes of creating a finished documentary series. We have been active on social media platforms, namely Instagram, where we have a loyal following of around 1,500 individuals. On Instagram, uploads are posted after they are carefully compiled, and oftentimes, center around different themes or ideas. We have released videos on topics ranging from the Black Lives Matter protests in the heart of a pandemic (with footage from Washington DC to Austin TX, to New Zealand) to Pets enjoying their innocent lives with extra admiration from their owners, to our “Day in the Life” series where we follow one person in their daily endeavors. We have thousands of videos submitted from the past seven months, and hope to keep going! You can find all of our videos on Instagram @covideoproject.
The project also works to support fundraising campaigns that donate to COVID-19 related causes. We decided to focus time on this portion of the project to ensure that we were not only creating a community but actively giving back to the greater one. We have partnered with Produce Alliance which had the goal of providing crates of fresh produce to frontline healthcare workers. The video promotion was a huge success and we were even able to get Melissa Ackerman, the head of the organization, to come and share her experience with us on our podcast. We also partnered with a youth-led organization called STARS which stands for Supplies to Aid Retired Seniors, it was an amazing and collaborative experience to work with another impressive youth non-profit. Our biggest collaboration yet has been with Indiaspora as part of the ChaloGive initiative to help COVID-19 relief efforts in India, and we greatly admire all that they have done. To see the collaboration, please click here.
Our Podcast, “Distanced: By the Covideo Project” is a platform where people with unique perspectives can voice their opinions and experiences living through a global pandemic. We strive to not only produce well-edited videos of our experiences but understand raw and intriguing perspectives through discourse. We have had guests ranging from members of our project to Indian author, columnist, researcher, teacher, and social activist Harsh Mander. We have also guested Mike Magers, a photographer who also was one of the first Americans diagnosed with Covid-19. We have an episode on the Black Lives Matter movement, an episode on how Indigenous communities are affected by the pandemic, an episode on outdoor time, one on living as the child of a first responder, and an episode interviewing the founder of a new youth-created art initiative. Our podcast seeks to explain current events as well as capture the true human experience of the pandemic. The link to our podcast on Spotify is here.
The Covideo Project is entirely youth-led, with youth editors, directors, and graphic designers, and music producers. Our website is https://www.thecovideoproject.com/ and our social media handles are @covideoproject. We have had several student and adult writers interview the project’s leading members, this being one of them! Recently, our project won a Gold Medal in Expanded Projects through the Scholastic Arts and Writing awards.
Looking forward, we are seeking to create a feature length documentary with the colossal amount of footage we have at the ready. This project has created a community that has provided lifelong friendships, and been able to bring out the best within every participant. I am so proud of what we have done.
I am Elson Bankoff, a junior in high school in Washington DC. Alongside being passionate about storytelling and filmmaking, I am an avid writer, activist, and participant in many clubs and organizations in and outside of school. I care deeply about helping those in need through political action and aid, and I try to base all of my endeavors around ensuring a better world as creatively and collaboratively as possible.