Student Starts Pledge to Distance Campaign

Junior+Sneha+Shenoy+and+her+team+are+encouraging+social+distancing+by+taking+a+pledge+and+then+offering+a+hand+drawn+self+portrait.

Courtesy of Sneha Shenoy

Junior Sneha Shenoy and her team are encouraging social distancing by taking a pledge and then offering a hand drawn self portrait.

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As stay at home orders were issued by government officials in late  March to help stop  the spread of COVID-19, or Coronavirus, junior Sneha Shenoy noticed one thing: People, especially her teen high school peers, were not taking the social distancing guidelines seriously.

Shenoy knew she had to do something about that, so she came up with the idea for a campaign called Pledge to Distance, where people would take an oath to stay away from others as much as possible, and in return receive a hand drawn photo of themselves, complete with a mask and their name on the mask.

“Naturally, I turned to drawing- one of my all time favorite hobbies,” she said  “I sketched a picture of my face and started arranging the letters of my name into the shape of a mask. I really liked how this looked, so I began making these pieces for my friends. After I created about 10 of these, I posted a graphic collage on my Snapchat Story with the message “Stay home. Stay Safe.” This received a lot of positive feedback and kind of serves as the birth of the campaign.”

Shenoy then set out to develop an efficient way to produce the artwork, as well as a Google form where people can take the actual pledge and upload a photo for the drawing,  create social media pages and now,  develop a website- www.pledgetodistance.com.

Shenoy now has recruited and trained a team of teens to help her with the project.

“A person who wishes to take the pledge will click on the link to the Google Form,”she said. “The first thing they will see is the actual pledge. This explains what social distancing is and the importance of this concept in society today. They will then sign their name, promising to practice social distancing. The next parts of the form include uploading a clear headshot, indicating the preferred color of lettering, entering a few forms of communication and leaving any additional comments. All together, the form should only take about two to three minutes to complete.”

Social distancing is still a very important concept as Texas – and other states- are starting to reopen. COVID-19 is still present and transmittable,” she said. “Just because places are beginning to open doesn’t mean that we should stop taking precautions to stop the spread. By practicing social distancing, we are doing our part during this pandemic.””

— Sneha Shenoy

The campaign has reached 1,000 pledges since it began two and a half weeks ago. She stressed that  even though businesses in Texas are starting to reopen, everyone needs to still take precautions.

“Social distancing is still a very important concept as Texas – and other states- are starting to reopen. COVID-19 is still present and transmittable,” she said. “Just because places are beginning to open doesn’t mean that we should stop taking precautions to stop the spread. By practicing social distancing, we are doing our part during this pandemic.”

Health Science teacher and HOSA sponsor Kristen Haggard said she is not surprised Shenoy came up with this idea by herself, but when she heard the details, she was “mind blown.”

“I am really proud of Sneha. She started this campaign because she saw that many people were not listening to public health officials and gathering in large groups,” Haggard said.  “Just because you are at home, does not mean it’s a good idea to have a group of 10 or more get together. Sneha’s pledge is really helping to encourage everyone to think twice about the decisions they are making. Unfortunately, we cannot see the virus. It isn’t neon green with flashing signs saying “don’t touch this or touch me,”  we just have to use our own good common sense and understand that anywhere we go, anyone we come into contact with and anything we touch can expose us to this virus. The safest way to protect ourselves and others is just to stay at home.”

Shenoy said the project will run for as long as social distancing is necessary, but for now, they are taking one week at a time.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the amount of support and positive feedback this campaign has received in such a short period of time,” Shenoy said. “ We’d like to thank everyone that has participated and thank anyone in advance who plans to participate. Remember, social distancing does not mean losing contact with friends and family. We can still interact via video calls and messaging with our loved ones. Do your part: Stay home. Stay safe. Pledge To Distance.”