By Ginger DeShaney
Boston teens are using their voices to spread the word among their peers about the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
They are hopeful their message will be heard and heeded.
The “Teens Talking to Teens About the COVID Vaccine” video/social media project was spearheaded by the South Boston Community Health Center Youth Ambassadors in collaboration with the South Boston Neighborhood House and the Edgerley Family South Boston Boys & Girls Club. Michael Indresano of Indresano Studios in South Boston is generously providing professional studio, staff, technical support, and editing — all pro bono.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to be able to have that voice and spread the word,” Youth Ambassador Owen Rogers, 17, said before his recent shoot.
The video is important to “spread information to others who don’t know yet if they want to get vaccinated,” Owen said. “We’re trying to spread the word and convince more people to get vaccinated.”
Linda Doran, Youth Program Coordinator of the Youth Ambassadors Program, and the Ambassadors had a conversation a few months ago about special projects. They immediately came up with the idea of talking about the vaccine, she said.
“Why aren’t kids getting vaccinated? We don’t know. We talk to our friends and we don’t understand it,” the teens told her.
Jack Mogan, 14, a member of the Keystone Club at the Boys & Girls Club, said: “I think [the vaccine] benefits the community. If everybody gets vaccinated, there’s a lower risk of getting COVID and everything can get back to normal.”
Margaret Lynch, the Marketing and Development Director at SBCHC, contacted Michael about the project. “Michael was incredibly supportive, right from the start. He and his team have been amazing with the teens — helping them to develop their concept and bring it all to fruition,” she said. “Michael is passionate about helping to spread a positive message about the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“We are so grateful,” Linda said about the partnership. She said kids can think of a project and shoot it on their phones, but it’s nothing like this. “It’s such credibility for them to know that their word is being heard and respected and produced in such a professional way.”
Noah White, a YAP alumni, figured he’d just be shooting his segment on his phone. “It was really cool being in a professional studio,” he said.
Linda has always said, “If you give teens a platform they have a lot to say, but they don’t always get that opportunity. To get an opportunity like this to be in a professional studio with a professional crew …”
Added Trey Glickman, an assistant at Indresano Studios, “Teens have a lot of voices being shouted at them but the one voice they don’t have is themselves.”
Now they do.
The vaccine project piggybacks on other projects the Ambassadors have done, such as substance abuse prevention and teen sexual health. “They talk peer to peer. Kids listen to other teens. They’re not going to listen to adults,” Linda said.
“If an adult tells you not to do something, you just want to do it,” said Trey, who is not far removed from being a teenager. “If a teen tells you not to do it, then you’ll listen.”
Mary Lee, 14, got vaccinated so she could feel comfortable going back to school.
Jack and Owen got vaccinated for the older people in their lives. “I think it’s important for people to be vaccinated to make it safe for people who are high risk,” Owen said.
Studio staff directed the teens on how to enter the shot, asked them questions, and generally provided an amazing atmosphere under the lights and in front of the cameras.
Kristen Clifford, production coordinator at Indresano Studios, said, “I think it’s a great project. The kids I met have been so passionate about this project. We’re happy to be a part of it. Hopefully this video will help get more kids vaccinated.”
Michael said he and his studio staff try to help out whenever they can, noting they give back to a lot of nonprofit organizations in South Boston.
“Margaret mentioned they were really inspired and excited to do it and they wanted to make it a reality, so it encouraged me and gave me a lot of interest to make the kids’ dream a reality; make their vision come to life,” Michael said. “We’re happy to do it.”
The goal is to have the video edited and formatted for several platforms, Trey said, ranging from YouTube (which allows for a longer video) and Instagram to Facebook and TikTok.
“You want as wide of a reach as possible,” he said.
For studio producer Samantha Carty, it was her first time working with high schoolers. “They were all clearly very empowered the way they carried themselves,” she said. “It was really impressive. They were pretty well-spoken.
“They had strong opinions, which gave me hope for the future, honestly.”
STAY TUNED! South Boston Online will share the videos once they are completed.