Taking The Negative and Turning It Into A Positive:  A Teen’s Quarantine Story
By Julio Salabarria

On March 16th, schools in Philadelphia were announced to be let out for two weeks due to the rise of Covid-19. Shortly after the Stay At Home order was put into place, leaving many teens home, uncertain of what to do. This resulted in many not being able to see their friends anymore, the transition from regular learning to online learning, and the new fear of what is to come in the future. Yet, through all the negativity, a Philadelphia high school student decided to shed some light and use her creativity to make the darkest situation into a positive one.

Kaitlyn Rodriguez is a rising sophomore who attends the Philadelphia High School for the Creative & Performing Arts (CAPA) as a visual artist. She was among the many teens staying home during this quarantine who felt sad and slightly defeated. Kaitlyn had a sudden burst of motivation that she directed towards creating art. After conversations with her friend about painting ideas, she decided to paint what was going on during that time. Her first painting was a man with a mask that said Covid-19.

Kaitlyn further explained “I wanted to showcase what has been going on through different races, genders, and backgrounds. As I continued to paint I realized that showcasing all of those topics into one painting wouldn’t get my point across as clearly as I wanted to. Instead, I decided to make a series of paintings under the title Covid-19: An Awareness Series, and from there I further expanded my idea into nine beautiful paintings.¨ 

She even made a video with the help of WHYY’s Education Department about her paintings. “Art is a way to relieve myself from the stress that I am feeling,” she explains in her video. 

Photo Credits: Kaitlyn Rodriguez (@_katecreatez_), 

Photo Credits: Kaitlyn Rodriguez (@_katecreatez_), 

Photo Credits: Kaitlyn Rodriguez (@_katecreatez_), 

Included in the series are paintings of a female nurse, a mailman, an older man who shows the symptoms of Covid-19, a merge of a female firefighter and male police officer, and five people of different backgrounds represented with different masks.

 

Kaitlyn´s creativity didn’t stop there -- she also produced a mini-documentary, again with the help of WHYY, that focused on the youth’s feelings about staying at home during the quarantine. She asked various teens of the anxieties that they have faced while getting professionals advice on how teenagers should cope with such things. 

 

She said she “wanted to make something that would not only help me cope with the anxiety of being at home twenty-four-seven, but also help my friends who I knew shared the same worries and fears as me. My main goal was to give others a sense of comfort through all the hardships that have been recently going on.” 

 

While Kaitlyn was making the documentary she explained the process to be challenging yet enjoyable. 

 

“It was hard trying to get interviews from people and constantly having to bug them about certain things. I personally don’t like being a bother at times, but when you need a video by a set date you need to start pushing people forward. From b-roll, scriptwriting, editing, everything was a process. Was it stressful at times? Yes, but the final product came out way better than I expected.” 

Through making this documentary she learned more about people’s coping mechanisms and their unique ways of solving certain problems, overall expanding her knowledge on this subject.

 

Kaitlyn Rodriguez took her visions and made them into a reality. She took something as negative as Covid-19 and turned it into a positive. Taking this opportunity to try to hopefully inspire other teens to go beyond and do more with the time that they have. 

 

”My goal at the end of the day is to reach as many people as possible. I wish to use my platform to spread positivity and in turn show others how when things get rough, there is always a way to get out and shine in your own special light.”

 

You can see her mini-series here