Earlier this month, GOOD Morning Wilton featured several Wilton teens who were inspired to fundraise or do other good deeds in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We continue to hear of more amazing young people taking initiative during this challenging time. Their interests and efforts are as diverse as they are laudable.
Aryan Shah, an 8th grader at Middlebrook School, was inspired to use the family’s 3D printer to help produce desperately needed PPE for hospitals. After Aryan did some research and tested a few designs, his twin sister Saniya, also an 8th grader at Middlebrook, and older brother Rohan, a Wilton High School sophomore, decided to join in the effort. With one 3D printer running around the clock, the family added a second one to increase their productivity.
They produced 30 face shields, each requiring an hour to print. Those shields were sent to an organization called MatterHackers, an online seller of digital fabrication equipment and a unique online community of professional, academic and amateur 3D printing enthusiasts. MatterHackers had created the “Maker Response Hub” where thousands of volunteers making 3D-printed PPE could respond to requests from medical facilities across the United States, including Columbia University Medical Center/New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
The siblings (pictured above) also produced 290 tension release bands (ear savers), each taking about 20 minutes to print. Those items were given to the Warrior Helpers group to distribute and directly to a local doctor. Another 75 are nearing completion as the Shah siblings plan to continue printing more PPE for frontline workers.
Sophia Ramirez is a junior at WHS. Last summer, she traveled to Colombia to teach English to a group of disadvantaged children. Upon her return, she founded SynYouth, a non-profit that provides online, English language instruction to young people in Latin America. Using an online meeting platform, SynYouth connects English-speaking, high school student tutors to Spanish-speaking students hoping to improve their “real world” English skills.
Interest in SynYouth has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sophia believes the pandemic is fueling the opportunity to connect young people in different parts of the world when they have more available time and are often at home with so many other activities cancelled due to the virus.
Sophia is not the only WHS student involved in the program. Instrumental in the organization are fellow juniors Sophia Flaim, curriculum manager; Casey Shu, outreach manager; Aashi Yadav, social media manager; and Suhani Suneja, class coorindator.
At present, SynYouth is looking for ways to increase awareness of their services to students seeking English language tutoring.
Joy Ren and Tiffany Ling
Currently freshmen at Wilton High School, Joy Ren and Tiffany Ling are active supporters of PERIOD.org, a global, youth-run, non-profit that strives to end “period poverty” and the stigma often associated with menstruation. In addition to advocacy and education programs, much of PERIOD’s work is focused on distributing menstrual products to women and girls in marginalized communities, with over six hundred PERIOD chapters in all fifty states and over fifty countries.
These two teens formed a Wilton chapter of the organization, with Ren serving as president and Ling as vice president.
Ren and Ling recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic would only intensify the difficulty for women to obtain the menstrual products they need, both in terms of affordability and accessibility. They created a fundraising page to support PERIOD.org in an effort to send menstrual products to shelters, food pantries and other providers in some of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic.
At press time they had achieved about one-third of their fundraising goal. Anyone interested in the organization may also reach to Ren and Ling by email.
Rachel Slater, a junior at Wilton High School, is a talented singer and musician. In addition to taking singing lessons at Wire Mill Academy in Georgetown, she also studies piano, plays the ukulele, and writes and performs her own songs. Slater is in the WHS Madrigals program and has sung the national anthem at numerous athletic events.
Since COVID-19 has been especially devastating for senior citizens, Slater decided to share her talents with residents at senior living facilities by singing outside their windows.
Slater has made window-side performances at Wilton Commons senior housing as well as the Long Ridge Post Acute Care nursing facility in Stamford, where her mother also works and sees firsthand how difficult the pandemic has been on residents. These residents have not been allowed visitors and many of their recreational and social activities have been curtailed. Slater hopes to return to those locations to sing again, and also add performances at Wilton nursing homes.
As this video from the Long Ridge facility shows, Slater’s performances are indeed a delight for seniors or anyone else fortunate to be within earshot.
When he’s not doing a Rolling Stones video cover or writing an essay that also goes viral about the pandemic’s impact on his perceptions of our town, Ryan Witty, a WHS junior, is helping economically disadvantaged individuals in the struggle against the coronavirus.
Ryan was involved in an initiative to bring homemade masks and a large donation of sterile gloves to the Open Door homeless shelter in Norwalk. Homelessness is a cause the Witty family really cares about. Every year around Christmas, they do a “midnight run” to bring food and personal care packages to the homeless in New York City.
Since COVID-19 made it inadvisable for Witty to make in-person deliveries to the homeless, he channeled his efforts toward the Open Door Shelter.
With some help from his mother and a tutorial from Warrior Helpers, Witty made masks designed with a pocket in which a coffee filter can be inserted. Witty explained that having a disposable filter is a helpful feature when a mask cannot be frequently cleaned, as is often the case for masks given out at Open Door.
Using bandanas and bedsheets from his own home as well as donated materials, Ryan was able to deliver 100 masks to the shelter along with a substantial supply of coffee filters and gloves.