Arthur Wang, 17, realized the seriousness of COVID-19 months before most of his classmates when he received updates about the then new virus from his uncle, who is a doctor in China.
It inspired the Columbia resident to come up with an effort to better support teachers and other workers in Howard County, where he is a junior at River Hill High School and beyond.
“We wanted to help the community,” he explained. “I realized how difficult it was for teachers to switch from virtual to personal classes. Some teachers said it was like flying a plane without direction.”
Wang inspired 42 other students in the county to form the nonprofit Clarksville Youth Care Group. The organization has donated more than 1,400 protection kits to teachers at 62 schools. And he’s not done yet.
The sets include a handmade colorful fabric mask in various designs that has a pocket where a filter can be inserted for additional protection; an “ear protector” that reduces the strain that masks place on the ears; a thank you card and a masking ribbon. Each set takes about three hours to make.
“I realized that we had to explain how hard it would be for the teachers. We expect them to be such a strong figure. We needed to appreciate all the hard work they do, ”said Wang, who previously raised $ 13,000 in an effort to make 3,600 face shields donated to 101 hospitals, clinics, dental offices, emergency care centers and first aiders in seven states.
For this project, Wang raised $ 5,000.
Wang’s efforts were recently recognized when he was one of two Marylanders in 25 high school students from across the country named as Prudential Emerging Visionaries.
Faaris Zuberi, 17, of Rockville, was also recognized for the “Financial Literacy Introduction Program,” which offers financial literacy training to students who are members of the Youth Economic Initiative.
The award recognized the students for their “unique, innovative solutions to pressing economic and societal challenges in their communities,” according to Prudential Financial.
“Emerging Visionaries is another way Prudential demonstrates its commitment to our purpose: to make life better by addressing the economic challenges of our changing world,” said Charles Lowrey, the firm’s chairman and CEO, in a statement. “The students we pay tribute to have a sense of opportunity that makes them look beyond themselves. Their vision and dedication is the key to creating fully inclusive communities, and we are humbled and inspired by their work. “
Each of the 25 winners will receive $ 5,000 in funding as well as an invitation to attend a awards ceremony at Prudentials Headquarters in Newark, NJ, starting Saturday. At the summit, Wang will have the opportunity to compete for the grand prize of an additional $ 10,000 in funding. Prudential employees will also vote to nominate an Employees’ Choice Award winner, who will receive an additional $ 5,000.
Mikaela Lidgard, principal at River Hill High School, first learned about Wang’s project last year while working at another school.
“The project has reached other schools in Howard County and Maryland,” she said. “Seeing young people take the lead and move on and be compassionate with others was truly inspiring. They are our best asset. And they want to lead us in ways that are exciting, uplifting and strengthen our faith in humanity.”
Amanda Wang, a 14-year-old freshman at River Hill, said she is very proud of her brother’s ability to lead and inspire others in the effort. She also helps lead the group with him.
Plan your weekend with our selection of the best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV shows and more. Delivered every Thursday.
“It’s remarkable. It’s not something you see every day. It’s out of the ordinary,” she explained. “He helped organize the whole group. His hard work inspired me and others to work harder and ensure that this project proceeded at a steady pace. “
She added: “[My parents] has been quite supportive. They have been really proud of us. We needed their help with a few things – such as material costs and design – but it’s mostly us who do this. “
The group has 300 sets left that it wants to donate to teachers.
Arthur Wang said he plans to expand the effort to bus drivers and other community members who are in direct contact with the public. He will also inspire more students to join.
“I think we can really take our stuff to the next level and expand to more and more people,” he said.
This article is a part of our Newsmaker series, which profiles remarkable people in the Baltimore region who have an impact on our diverse communities. If you would like to suggest someone who should be profiled, please send their name and a brief description of what they do to make a difference to: Editor for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Kamau High at [email protected].