Pandemic Proof: Four Stories of Youth Making and Activism

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts focused on how hands-on learning can be made accessible at home. This post is by contributing writer Dion Evans. To date, kits have been distributed to 750 families in Oakland through Oakland Unified School District’s “Grab and Go” food distribution sites, drive-through graduations, and delivered to families’ homes. This work would not have been possible without the collaboration and partnership of educators at EBAYC, Bay Area Community Resources, and Safe Passages.

While many in America have been bracing themselves for a second wave of COVID-19 cases, a historical wave of protests have arisen around the world. Now vying alongside reports on COVID-19 are media updates on the rising protests and policy reforms resulting from them. Both COVID-19 and the protests at hand are equally reshaping the way the citizens of the United States of America have begun to view themselves as the world looks on and demands its own changes. 

Amidst all that is taking place, there are young students just old enough to understand that something different is occurring and they are speaking out using their mediums at hand, including Maker Ed kits.

Maker Ed Kits were dispersed to the children in this story on two separate occasions: the young girls received their kits at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the young boys were provided them as the rise of protests began. Although this was not a planned effort, the creations made from each group displays its effects in what each group produced.

Lilyanna Guzmaan received her Maker Ed kit during the Madison Park Academy 8th-Grade promotion drive-thru, she stated, “At first I thought it was like I was back in Kindergarten or elementary when we were given supplies to create something out of our imagination.”  

She went on to share, “I used the materials given to me mostly when I got bored or needed to have a positive distraction from what is happening in the world right now. When I received the supplies it took me back to that stage in my life when I didn’t know about problems in society and everything was happy.”

Tamah Love, promoted 8th-grader, shared that when she sits down to make something with the kit, “I don’t really know what I will make. I just wait to see what I have to work with and then go from there.” Love also shared, “I’m impressed with myself on how I don’t need any instructions or any guidance with what I am creating.”

Tamah wrapped up her thoughts with this, “Supplies like these could be good for a class assignment. Like building something in a group with people without instructions or help. We just have to use our brains.”

Seth Quyn, entering 7th grader, sat down to craft a few items after having attended several local protests which occurred in Oakland over the past few days. Seth shared, “I made an African-American Flag and inside the middle of my black strip I put BLM for Black Lives Matter.” When questioned why this was his desired craft, he replied, “I made this because of everything going on in the world right now, it’s about Black lives being taken away.”

Isaiah Coleman, promoted 8th-grader, decided initially to use the white paper included in the Home Maker Kit to make a drawing. However, as he continued, he began to incorporate glued pipe cleaners to make his art project appear 3D. “I am more of a photographer type person, so I decided to draw my thoughts,” stated Isaiah. He shared, “I would name my piece ‘Protestors Against Police’ because the police during these protests are using weapons to hurt people while the people are using only signs and their voices.”

When the children were asked about their thoughts on the Home Maker Kits, Isaiah responded, “It comes with many resources for different types of art you might want to make.” Seth replied, “For me, it was missing one resource that I needed: a pencil.  Other than that, the kit is good.”

In closing, Isaiah Coleman had this to say, “These kits will help you visualize what is happening in this world, whether it is the pandemic or the chaos. Teachers should utilize these kits to show their support and to make projects with themselves. This way they can display to students that they stand with them and understand what they are going through.”

This post is part of a series about our partnership with after school organizations in Oakland, California. Learn more about the Home Maker Kits project here.

If you would like to support this project and help us reach our goal of distributing 1500 home maker kits to Oakland youth, please consider making a donation to Maker Ed.






2 responses to “Pandemic Proof: Four Stories of Youth Making and Activism”

  1. Na'Dra Hennington Avatar
    Na’Dra Hennington

    This is an awesome and enlightening story that shares the importance of after school programs providing the opportunity for “student’s choice and student’s voice.”

  2. Alyssa Sayavedra Avatar
    Alyssa Sayavedra

    I stand with you Seth & Isaiah. Thank you for sharing your voices and your beautiful artwork. Black lives matter!

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