The Dhawan family lives in a house on a corner in their subdivision with a view of many of their neighbors’ yards, and what 11-year-old Ishaan saw last week concerned him.
Despite Forsyth County, Georgia and the U.S. in a declared state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Ishaan observed kids regularly playing outside with their friends. This didn’t seem to fit with the highly-publicized guidelines for social distancing to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, Ishaan thought.
When he found out some kids were having sleepovers, Ishaan took action.
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” he said. “The virus is already increasing, and I can’t see more people suffering.”
Last Friday, Ishaan, a fifth-grader at Shiloh Point Elementary School, uploaded a three-minute video to Facebook with a message for the kids “worried about losing their free time and not having time with their friends,” he said in the video.
“Let us all work together in this mission and sacrifice our playdates and sleepovers,” he said. “This is how we can end the stupid coronavirus.”
The video is a public service announcement to Ishaan’s peer group. He knows their regular life has been upended by the coronavirus. Schools are closed, now through April 24. Leaders are urging residents to stay home. Businesses like restaurants and movie theaters and local amenities like parks are closed.
But Ishaan has also stayed informed about the latest developments with the virus. He regularly tracks the number of cases and deaths at worldometer.info and through news outlets, and the numbers concerned him. As of noon Thursday, Georgia had more than 1,500 confirmed cases and 48 deaths.
That’s why he worried about those kids playing together in his neighborhood coming into close contact with each other and “how dangerous it can be if we hang out with our friends or have sleepovers, especially when schools are out,” he says in the video.
Ishaan explains it all in the video: what the coronavirus is, how it spreads and how to prevent it from spreading. He spent a few days writing a script for the video, using information he’s heard from news outlets, but “it mostly came from my heart,” he said.
“The virus is already increasing,” Ishaan said. “They are just making it worse. More people are going to suffer. So I had to make this video.”
After his mom, Shweta, posted the video on her Facebook page, Ishaan got positive feedback from some neighbors.
“They like how I put it together, speaking it and trying to help other kids not play, not be outside, and helping stop the coronavirus,” he said.
Ishaan and his family are doing their part, he said. He’s doing his online learning for school, of course, but his family has also played board games, like Risk, or watched movies, like “Spider-man: Far From Home.” With the extra time home, he’s also helped his mom in the kitchen and his dad with some projects around the house. Ishaan said he also spends time meditating to boost his immune system.
That’s what Ishaan would like to see other kids doing: staying inside, away from others, to try to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
That’s why he made his video, and he hopes it will inspire kids to make more and spread the message.
“Kids will understand other kids,” Ishaan said.