In March 2020, life took an unexpected turn and overnight, everything shut down. We all saw our routines disrupted, especially young people who were suddenly quarantined at home, unsure of when they could go back to school. Despite the uncertainty, some found an opportunity to shine.
A community-based ecologically-minded high school graduation project
Marie-Hélène, aged 16, had known for awhile that the goal of her high school graduation project was to give back to the community. While most people her age weren’t very motivated, she took advantage of the golden opportunity quarantine presented to double down and immerse herself in her project. Her idea came from the sad realization that not everyone was as fortunate as her and could have nice things. So she set out to help kids and families enjoy some of these same privileges.
With her mother’s help, Marie-Hélène went looking for items that had been tossed out but were still in good condition. She brought her finds home and organized them into various categories. Some things only needed cleaning, while others required a bit of work to put back together. Other items were damaged and had to be completely refurbished. Since she didn’t have much knowledge in this area, she did some research to develop her manual skills.
But the Internet has its limits: when she needed extra help, she’d turn to her grandfather. Marie-Hélène worked tirelessly over the summer. In all, she was able to reassemble 231 pieces of clothing, over 90 toys and about 70 miscellaneous objects. She plans to give everything to Société de Saint-Vincent de Paul, an organization that will distribute the items free of charge to those in need. Next step: fill out her logbook and complete the required documentation to submit her final project in December.
We shouldn’t take anything for granted, because everything can suddenly change. Her advice for young people? Take the time to get to know yourself; that’s the key to staying motivated.
After high school, this brilliant young woman who is sensitive to the needs of others plans to pursue social studies in college. She’s not sure yet what she’ll do after that, but she knows that she likes anything to do with people, from the emotional aspect to mutual aid. It’s what helps her stay focused. What did she learn in quarantine? That we shouldn’t take anything for granted, because everything can suddenly change. Her advice for young people? Take the time to get to know yourself; that’s the key to staying motivated.
Marie-Hélène’s generosity, discipline and positivity are really impressive. She’s sure to do a fantastic job of anything she takes on!
Music, a solid anchor in uncertain times
Elliot, aged 16, has always been a good student. However, even though he knows that subjects like math and chemistry are a sure bet for the future, they don’t really move him. Music is really where his passion lies. He’s been playing piano since he was 5 and guitar since he started high school. When the pandemic hit, this aspiring musician took advantage of quarantine to devote himself fully to his art. While most of his friends were playing video games, he was composing and writing song lyrics and exploring new musical genres, like rap, classical and jazz. Quarantine allowed him to expand his horizons and become a true artist.
At school, we learn about ourselves and what we want. What’s important is setting a goal and trying to the best of our ability to achieve it.
During the summer, he shared his compositions with his musician friends, who invited him to join their group and record at a studio in Saint-Élie-de-Caxton. At the time of this writing, they’re working on their first album. Elliot is lucky to have good people around him: his parents are huge music lovers who’ve always encouraged him, his music teacher really pushed him to develop his skills, and even singer-songwriter Philippe Brach sent him a video to encourage him to pursue his music. A little anecdote: Elliot dedicated one of the recording artist’s songs to a friend diagnosed with cancer during the Secondaire en spectacle high school show competition. He placed second and gave his prize to a foundation that fights cancer. An acquaintance sent a video of the performance to Philippe Brach, and the rest is history!
After exploring and creating over these last few months, Elliot decided to build on the momentum and refine his talent by enrolling in the jazz music program. His message for those who find it hard to stay motivated? At school, we learn about ourselves and what we want. What’s important is setting a goal and trying to the best of our ability to achieve it. We wish you all the very best in your future endeavours, Elliot!
Working together for youth
During quarantine, young people did incredible things. Armed with creativity, resourcefulness and awareness, they always find a way to impress us, even in the most uncertain times. Desjardins is proud to encourage academic excellence by supporting projects that allow our youth to shine. Together, we want to help bring their promising, original ideas to life for the benefit of all.
To give you an idea of all the fun that went into the making of this video, here’s a glimpse behind the scenes!