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OGT Longhorns Advocate for Mental Health in Elder Communities

Hi, my name is Kaelyn Lane and I am a senior at UT Austin. I recently have experienced a cycle of emotions in response to the Coronavirus outbreak, as I’m sure most of us have. It’s easy to be watching the news and think to yourself “oh wow, this is actually affecting a lot of people”, but actually internalizing everything is a completely different process. My entire perspective on the pandemic changed so abruptly. One minute I was quarantined with all of my roommates (who happen to be my best friends as well) in our west campus apartment, minding my own business, then the next I was beyond overwhelmed.

At first, we kept ourselves busy by watching the best movies, the newest Netflix shows, doing puzzles, playing all sorts of games and making the most of our time (which don’t get me wrong- there is nothing wrong with having fun during a time like this), but I didn’t realize how much I was stuck in my own little world. I realized it’s great to be making the best of our time stuck at home, but we can’t forget to remind ourselves what is actually happening outside of our homes- to our next-door neighbors, to healthcare workers, to people’s moms, to people’s cousins, to someone’s boss, etc.

The reality of this all set in when a handful of my friends and UT students began showing symptoms of COVID and eventually testing positive for the virus. At first, I was completely shocked- how are all of these young, completely healthy individuals getting sick? How is this affecting people so close to me? Why was I lucky enough to not get the virus?

The next emotion that overcame me was fear. I was scared for my friends, for myself, for my peers and for my loved ones. However, this emotion was rather short-lived as school started back up and I began to quickly drown in my demanding academic life. I was beyond stressed adjusting to having lectures on Zoom, trying to finish all my assignments by their deadline, and, on top of all of this, studying in my free time. I finally then allowed myself to take a step back and think about how minor these seemingly big problems of mine actually were. There are people losing their lives and I’m worried about getting an A in one of my classes.

At this point, I began to feel somewhat guilty. I felt like I was being selfish, so focused on myself. This led me to stay on top of the most recent news articles, following the news channels more frequently and staying more up to speed with the impact of Coronavirus, both domestically and internationally. If you’re someone who has been adamant about staying current with the pandemic outbreak, I think you could easily agree that this is scary, to put it lightly.

However, amidst all of the craziness and spread of COVID-19, I decided it would be a good idea to focus on what I can do to positively impact our community rather than focus on the fear and unknown. When I found this motivation to help make a difference, I realized I needed to seek out an organization that aligned with the same goal. One Good Turn is an amazing nonprofit organization that I am lucky enough to work with to help promote education on COVID and focus on mental health promotion during a time of uncertainty.

Students and millennials have enormous potential to make a difference right now and I think we should all take advantage of this opportunity. In order to achieve the goals we have in mind, I’ve gathered a group of students willing to make a difference. Together we can work on encouraging and educating vulnerable populations. Whether this means educating people on prevention, helping distribute masks and other necessary resources, or simply being a light in times of darkness for many, I believe we have an enormous potential to help out our community. If you’re a student like me or just someone who wants to make a difference, please join One Good Turn and me in our effort to do so.

So far OGT longhorns have created handmade cloth masks from old t-shirts we thought could go to better use, as well as handmade postcards with uplifting messages to give to the elder community.

On Tuesday, we delivered the cards and t-shirt masks to four local nursing homes: Brooksdale Senior Living, Retirement and Nursing Center, Belmont Village Westlake, and Heritage Park Skilled Nursing.

We are so excited knowing the potential impact we can make on these individuals' lives during this time. A small group of students alone has made about 25 masks and 130 postcards to contribute to the community- imagine the impact we could make by joining more students together!

Learn more about One Good Turn:


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