After shelter-in-place orders took effect, Gunn High School students Katherine Kudriavtsev and Sarah Emberling, worried about the potential impact on teenage mental health. That prompted the rising seniors to create their website, QuaranTEEN, a social and creative outlet for people to connect amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Teenagers around the world were separated from their friends and socially withdrawn,” Kudriavtsev said. “We wanted to do something to combat the stress, negativity and hopelessness that they were feeling.”
Since launching in early May, the website has attracted nearly 2,000 users. QuaranTEEN has a variety of features, including a forum, entertainment quizzes, a blog and a pen-pal project that pairs teens with peers to communicate with via email.
“For the pen-pal program, we have a form to fill out, and then we personally match people based on their answers,” Emberling said. “Then we give them each other’s emails and they could become friends.”
Emberling and Kudriavtsev also have organized several events through their platform, including a writing contest and creativity concert. The concert – scheduled 8 p.m. July 15 over Zoom – will feature teen singers, musicians, poets and other artists. Event registration is on the website.
The two Palo Alto residents recently expanded QuaranTEEN’s intended audience to include adults and young children, offering a parent blog and reading videos. In the videos, teen volunteers record themselves reading children’s books, sometimes even in different languages.
“It’s targeted mostly toward parents who are essential workers or are too busy right now,” Kudriavtsev said. “Parents can play them while they work and show it to their kids.”
Although QuaranTEEN is free to use, the co-founders have organized a fundraiser for Frontline Foods – which uses donations to source food from local restaurants and provide it to health-care workers in need – through the website. So far, they have raised nearly $300 of their $1,000 goal.
“We think this is a really great way to uplift businesses here in the Bay Area and just help people out,” Kudriavtsev said. “We really encourage anyone who has the means to, or has enjoyed using our site, to donate.”
Kudriavtsev and Emberling hope to continue their website even after the coronavirus pandemic; both co-founders expressed interest in planning future events and adding additional features to the site. In the meantime, QuaranTEEN remains as a resource for anyone looking to connect while social distancing.
“It’s important that we all talk to each other and make sure that everyone is doing all right during this time,” Emberling said. “We have to make sure we all know that we’re in it together.”
For more information on QuaranTEEN, visit qteen.net.