Mater Dei Prep students have helped produce a video to show their appreciation for first responders, health care professionals and essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the video, #mymaskisforyou, the Middletown students read letters written by local nurses, play music and share poems and inspirational quotes to encourage others to wear a face mask to slow the spread of COVID.   

“As students during the quarantine, our hardships come in the way [of] living through the daily routines – waking up, checking social media, helping around the house and hours of schoolwork. For essential workers and health care professionals, it’s not the same,” rising senior Fiona Fitzgerald says in the video.

“We are dealing with a difficult pandemic. Our definition of who we are and how we are affected will play a role in shaping peace … beyond tomorrow,” she continues. “Today, I will wear a mask for you – because to shape a future will require that we all play a role in keeping each other safe.”

The video was created by those from Mater Dei Prep’s Global Leaders Institute, which is dedicated to making a positive change in the world on both a local and global scale. They paired with Deborah Greene of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Pathways to Peace. Mater Dei teacher George Anthony has served as a Pathways to Peace United Nations representative for decades, and the Global Leaders Institute often presents with PTP at the U.N.

Anthony, the Global Leaders coordinator, explained the project, saying, “We want people to know when wearing a mask, it is communicating to the public [the message that] ‘I care about you, and I don’t want you to get sick.’ This project is deeply rooted in our Catholic values; our hope is for the world and nation to heal and find peace.”

For example, junior Alessandra Fleming quotes from a nurse’s letter in the video. “I don’t think I could ever really explain in words what we go through during our 12-hour shift. I can’t make you imagine the amount of emotional, mental, physical, and psychological pain and exhaustion we experience.” 

Said rising junior Elizabeth Bertsch, “By sharing … the firsthand accounts of those on the front lines, we can inform the public of the daily struggles of our nurses, doctors and others who spend a majority of their days helping patients fight for their lives.”

Anthony talked about other reasons the students made the video. “We often present our work at the United Nations. Every year, the students in my class must create a final project. Deborah Greene reached out to me – especially since our area has been heavily affected by COVID-19 – and the class thought this would be an appropriate topic to focus on.”

Greene, founder of the overall #mymaskisforyou project, said, “I originally came up with the hashtag to emphasize the importance of slowing the spread of COVID-19. We made a website so people could share on social media/create memes why they personally wear a mask.”

Anthony, a parishioner of St. Mary, Middletown, discussed the importance of prayer during the pandemic. “When we see these challenges, we need to turn to Scripture and the leadership of our priests. Jesus is the foundation for our lives, and when we pray, he will comfort us. We need to keep praying for each other and for those who are serving. We have confidence as a Church because we know his mercy and grace.”

To watch the video and learn more about the #mymaskisforyou project, visit the Mater Dei Prep website.