A great example of how students should be handling themselves in this time of crisis is set by a Senior, Sam Safahi, at Miramonte High School, in Orinda CA. Great controversy has come about on the issue of wearing masks, and many lack knowledge on the benefits of them, including the main benefit, being the reduced transmission of Covid-19 from airborne particulates expelled when someone coughs, sneezes, or expels air from their mouth or nose.
The best way to educate people in your community about this issue is to connect with them and talk person to person, and that’s what Sam has recently started doing. We were contacted by a local resident of Orinda, who kindly gave us his contact information as well as informed us that Sam often goes to the Orinda park and Moraga commons, among other places, in his free time and cleans up the environment, picking up trash in addition to handing out masks to those who don’t have them, and answering questions related to the benefits of wearing masks. Studies show that wearing the gold-standard N95 mask can reduce inhalation of virus particles by 95%, and according to the American Lung Association “ For the general public, the reason for wearing a facial covering is to help protect others from you when you cough, sneeze or even talk and spray viral droplets into the air. Many people who become infected can unknowingly spread the COVID-19 virus because they have few or no symptoms so wearing a mask is showing respect for others and is your way of helping lessen the spread of the disease.”
We contacted Sam to find out more about this situation and he informed us that he “just wants to help out the community, it’s very small on my part but if everyone did it then we’d have a reduction in cases probably” which is very mature for someone of his age, as he is 17. Asking what other causes he partakes in, he states that he attends diversity summits and supports nearby movements pursuing racial justice, “I really believe that we’re all made equal and no one should be treated differently for the color of their skin.” He matches his words with financial contributions, having donated to date $2,550 to the BLM movement, $1,050 to food banks and shelters in Oakland, and $500 to a GoFundMe to support the California Firefighters on the front lines, an amount that he jokingly said is a “tax-write off”, and that he doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon, especially for racial justice, as he “loves to help people peacefully petition the government to end systemic racism, but I don’t condone any sort of violence whatsoever.” When asked where he gets this money, Sam replied that he earns his money by doing development work for companies/startups, who hire him to make backend servers, neural networks, and encryption systems. He accredits his work/engagement to the “fantastic” education he received in Orinda and the educated members of his community that partake in discussions often about racial inequality, homelessness, and politics.
More teenagers across the nation could engage with their community and take an engaged role in improving their neighborhood, and it doesn’t have to be as serious as what Sam has been doing. Picking up a few pieces of trash every now and then, having a civil discussion with a friend or family member about the news and politics, even opening a local club, are all great places one could start.
America could use more role models, and well-informed citizens, to improve and recover after a series of national protests, a pandemic that tore through the country, and natural disasters such as the devastating wildfires in California and the Hurricane sweeping through the south. If you wish to support the BLM movement, you can donate here.