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How a high school student scaled a coronavirus-response project … and reached $45,000 of support!

JUN 03, 2020 • 9 min read

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A high schooler recently breathed hope into her local community amidst the coronavirus outbreak, with an idea to raise money to purchase ventilators with the proceeds from a virtual art auction.

While high schoolers across New Zealand were adapting to lockdown measures and remote learning, Year 10 high school and Crimson Education student, Felicia Qin, was applying her spare time to finalising 85 pieces of artwork she and local artist John Reynolds created, to raise money for the hospital equipment that could aid coronavirus sufferers. The hope was to raise $10,000 .... she ended up raising $45,000.

From early March, Felicia worked within social distancing measures with artist Reynolds, to prepare artwork for auctioning; a move she decided would need to be online in order to sell artwork during the outbreak.

When speaking to Felicia last month, we asked her about the upcoming auction, the challenges she had to overcome given lockdown measures and the support she secured in order to respond to the unique medical and societal challenges presented by the pandemic.

Here are 5 practical tips that transformed Felicia’s efforts from an abstract idea to one that made a tangible, scalable impact.

1. Consider what inspires you, and develop an idea from there

Most students wouldn’t think of supporting coronavirus response efforts with art. But for Felicia, working within the realm of creativity felt like second nature to her, having grown up surrounded by art, furniture and jewelry from her father who owns an auction house.

It was her decision to work within an area she is passionate about - creating artwork with local artists, that gave her the perseverance and drive to contribute so many pieces (85) while also studying in high school.

Beyond the art world, Felicia is drawn to law and plans to pursue further studies after high school in the US or UK, with the help of her personalised Crimson Education team.

2. Set realistic goals … and then trump them

At the time, Felicia’s focus was on raising enough money to buy one or two ventilators, to donate to a local hospital. She said, “Hopefully we can raise $10,000, and if we sell all 85 art pieces it could even mean we raise $17,000. Right now I think Auckland has the most cases so we would look to donate them to a local hospital.”

Felicia focused on the output which she could control (creating artwork), rather than the outcome (the money raised). By creating 85 high quality art pieces, the demand for the art was proven with overwhelming bidding which far exceeded her expectations.

3. Find a team that can support you with your mission

The Year 10 student has been receiving guidance from the Crimson Education team, enlisting tutors and mentors to prepare her to achieve her dreams of gaining acceptance into the world’s most competitive universities.

“I want to go to a school in America and maybe the UK, but I like America better because I've heard from my strategist that it's more open and broad in terms of the subjects you can take up. You don't have to focus on one set specialisation, but you can experience a variety of subject areas and think about what you like to do as you learn.”

With this goal in mind, Felicia set out to develop her leadership skills and community impact experience, along with continuing to hone her academic performance. With the help of an extracurricular mentor, Felicia went from an ideation phase of forming project ideas in response to the coronavirus outbreak, to actually creating artwork and coordinating an online auction event with huge success.

4. Adapt your idea to one that brings value to your community

Not only was the artwork created to raise money for hospital equipment, but the subject matter itself was given careful consideration to ensure the art would appeal to the community sentiment at the time.

The designs of the artwork reflected the unique times we were facing. As Felicia explained, “We're writing words that bring meaning to people, such as those that relate to coronavirus and also xenophobia that has emerged around the issue. We decided for the background, it will be skin tone, along with some other colors like green that reflects bacteria.”

5. Plan a initiative that can scale

Raising money for ventilators was Felicia’s priority, however she did not stop there. Before the auction day, Felicia already began to think ‘what more can we do’, ‘how do we reach more people’ and ‘how do we make an even greater impact’. Her idea was to shift support to grocery shopping next, following examples from others in New Zealand and Canada, who were providing those in need with errand runs and shopping support. “People are going to the supermarket on behalf of another, because their neighbors are either eldery or they have disabilities.”

Her advice to other high schoolers who would like to make a positive difference to the community but are unsure how is, “Even if it doesn't work out, just try. It might work out and it might succeed.”

Has this blog inspired any great ideas? Feel free to check out our blog home page for more great content, as well as our last blog post about what great projects and ECL ideas Crimson students have come up with during the coronavirus.

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