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NYC Teens Get Creative To Give Back And Connect During Coronavirus Shutdown

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Two New York City teens are giving young children something to smile about during these tough times.

As CBSN New York's Nina Kapur reports, they are not letting their charitable spirit get burnt out by coronavirus – instead, using it to help others.

At least once a month for half an hour, 14-year-old Ellie Campbell hosts a virtual craft session with young patients at Mount Sinai called "Crafternoon." Using model magic, science experiments and origami, she helps kids with compromised immune systems smile and tap into their creative sides.

"I've always been kind of an artsy person, and doing craft projects brought me joy," she told Kapur. "I wanted to share some of that with kids who needed that escape from reality."

It's a reality that's become a little more lonely since the coronavirus put a halt to visitors.

In one of her most recent streams, Campbell and her siblings taught the children to make lava lamps.

"I hope that this has an impact on the kids' daily lives, because it'll show them that they can make choices and go into this creative world," she said.


Nya Marshall, 16, is also donating her time to help others directly affected by coronavirus. Her "Buddy Reading Program" matches local teens with students from Sisulu-Walker charter school in Harlem to read together every week.

Marshall says 85% of the student body was living below the poverty line before COVID-19 hit, and the majority of their parents are essential workers.

"These kids can't see their friends. We're all home cooped up in our apartments. Everybody needs that buddy and that connection right now," she said. "Just being able to talk to somebody about your day, read and smile and laugh together – I think everybody needs it."

She and the 40 other teens involved downloaded a book online, then use Zoom to share their screens so their buddies can read along.

"I want them to be able to smile. I want them to know we're here for them, so they feel that sense of community," she said. "I'm glad that it's so educational."

Cambell and Marshall were given their platforms through Riley's Way Foundation, a Brooklyn-based organization that awards teens up to $3,000 to launch projects that bring their communities together.

"So many people find themselves at home really looking for a way to make a difference, and so all we're doing is creating the scaffolding support for our amazing teens to go do it," said Co-Founder Ian Sandler.

The girls are making the most of a bad situation, using kindness and compassion to form connections.

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