Anisha Talreja of McLean, a TJHSST freshman, poses next to a 3D printing machine the group uses to produce masks.
Quarantine in Virginia has seen many students taking the initiative to raise funds and contribute to frontline pandemic workers. A group of high school students in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region banded together into the Youth-COVID-19 Relief Organization, or YCRO, to connect hospitals and local organizations with supplies.
Not only does YCRO work with suppliers, but it also has teams that specialize in 3D printing and sewing its own masks. Publicity lead Anika Thatavarthy talks about the role of subteams in the project’s goals.
“YCRO also has...other expansive networks to fulfill donations, while also hosting a variety of other subteams. These other teams serve to raise awareness about health-related safety in the community by releasing informational videos and tutorials and aim to impact those affected by the pandemic in other ways such as via food donations and uplifting cards.”
Thatavarthy explains how YCRO founder Reevu Adakroy, a junior at TJHSST and Mclean resident, was inspired to start the group in March after seeing news about non-professional personal protective equipment production.
“Because of his passion for robotics and 3D printing and his drive to do his part to make a substantial impact in the DMV area, he began a basic call to action within his high school’s community in the hopes that many people who shared that same dedication to giving back would join the cause.”
As a new organization, YCRO faced difficulty in developing trust to attract volunteers, work with suppliers, and donate to medical facilities. Thatavarthy mentions the ways the organization overcame these obstacles.
“However, with consistent outreach efforts and diligence from Reevu and other members, YCRO was able to be integrated as active members into worldwide networks such as MasksforDocs and OSMS (Open Source Medical Supplies). In addition, reaching out to our own school and regional community for volunteers led to increased participation and efficiency.”
Currently, with 120 members, Thatavarthy says YCRO is still open to students who want to positively impact their community.
“For students who haven’t been a part of YCRO, our organization’s team leaders are happy to catch new members up to speed and are always open to new ideas and initiatives! Even without directly joining YCRO, you can help our cause by sewing masks or 3D printing face shields and contacting us in order to get connected with a facility in need of these supplies.”
YCRO aims to make a positive impact on the community so apart from recruiting team members, the organization provides instruction on their social media accounts (@projectycro) for those at home to contribute. Thatavarthy details the overarching goal for YCRO to help the community.
“We will be posting helpful tutorials for simple homemade PPE and other crucial information in relation to COVID-19 to our social media platforms. Overall, YCRO seeks to be a resource that our community can take advantage of in order to become more alert and aware of the pandemic and the needs of frontline workers.”