Students from Peterson Middle School and Wilcox High School are among the winners of Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s (SCCPHD) Vax Up Video contest. The contest was created so students could inspire their peers to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
“When we were thinking about the ways to get them involved because we knew that soon they were going to be authorized to get vaccinated, we thought, ‘What is going to be a cool way to really make sure that they can empower each other?’” said Marianna Moles, Communications Officer for SCCPHD.
Students from across Santa Clara County entered the contest. The SCCPHD received more than 70 videos. The videos were divided into two categories and judged by local community leaders, many of whom work in video production and education.
Ien Chen, 12, of Peterson Middle placed second in the 6th to 8th grade category.
“I wanted to enter because I thought it would be fun and a learning experience,” said Chen. “[I] basically used whatever I wanted to make this small presentation that I thought people would like and it was actually pretty cool.”
Chen used a coding program called Scratch to create an animated vaccine vial.
“I thought, ‘Oh yeah, people like cute stuff.’ There [are] certain characters that reminded me of Pokemon and other stuff. Doremon. It gave me inspiration,” said Chen. “[I thought], ‘Why can’t I use a COVID-19 vial as a character? Why can’t I make it have arms? Make it have legs? Why can’t I?’ That’s how I made the character for my project.”
Chen received a $1,000 cash prize for placing second place. He says, he plans to use the money to help pay for extra-curricular activities that will help him improve his coding and game development skills.
Daniel Moghaddam Panah of Wilcox High School placed second in the 9th to 12th grade category with his video “No to Delta.” He also received a $1,000 cash prize.
A team from Silicon Valley Academy in Sunnyvale composed of Sherif Elqursh, Hesan Helal and Amr Ibrahim placed third in the 6th to 8th grade category. They received a $500 cash prize.
Moles says she’s very happy with the results.
“I watched all of [the videos]. I enjoyed watching every single one of them. Some of them made me laugh, some of them made me cry, filled me with joy,” said Moles. “It was just so neat to see the response from the students because you can really tell that they’re passionate about this and they learned something new when they were putting these together. You can see the different skills that came forth.”
The videos will be used by the SCCPHD to spread the word about the need for COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots. Moles says the results of the contest are a testament to the power of youth voices in our community.
“I think we just really want to recognize how important youth voices are in our community, and how creative they are,” said Moles. “These kids created very powerful messages within 60 seconds of content. A lot of people can’t do that well. So, let’s recognize more youth voices, and let’s listen to what they have to say.”