ON COVID-19 Project keeps Canadian youth updated on COVID-19 virus

The project makes sure Millennials and Gen-Z never feel confused by COVID-19 updates and guidelines

Samanta Krishnapillai, Founder and Executive Director of ON COVID-19. (submitted)

The ON COVID-19 Project is a grassroots initiative based in Ontario. The project aims to provide accurate information on COVID-19 using social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, with messaging targeted towards Millennials, Gen-Z, and people aged 40 and under in Canada.

The project began in 2020 when Samanta Krishnapillai, who works in the health and sciences sector, realized that her friends and family members weren’t informed about COVID-19 safety regulations.

“I think Canadians, like anyone in the world, live unique lives. Not all of us are able to follow guidelines perfectly … the vast majority of people, I think, are just kind of confused and not sure what to do because the guidelines are not specific enough to their issues,” says Krishnapillai.

Some of the current information may use language that is not easy for everyone to understand. The ON COVID-19 Project serves to bridge the gap and provide accessible information using simple language that ensures the public health guideline messaging is understood by everyone, even those without a background in science or health.

The information available from public health guidelines on COVID-19 often requires someone to “have an understanding of the health sector or the political sector… in order to grasp what’s going on and how diseases are spread,” she says.

Through their social media, they also answer common questions about COVID-19, via direct messages, through their comment sections, and through the ON COVID-19 Project website.

“So unique viewership is 40,000, which means people are coming back to our content, which is what we want,” says Krishnapillai. Since the project began, ON COVID-19 has reached 150,000 people on Instagram.

On their audience breakdown, 26.3 per cent are between ages 18 to 24, 47.3 per cent are between 25 to 34 years old, and 14.7 per cent are 34 to 44 years old.

The ON COVID-19 Project uses information on COVID-19 from primarily Canadian sources and reliable healthcare information, such as academic journals and public health guidelines. The information is displayed on social media posts in a way that is easily digestible for its audience, using infographics on Instagram or explaining the information using a conversational tone.

On their factsheet, the project also welcomes collaboration with medical experts as a way to get accurate information.

They currently have 116 volunteers and over 400 ambassadors, however, they are currently looking for volunteers specifically living in B.C.

“We’re building out a rapid response team that’s going to specifically cover B.C. issues. Because we think that this is a Canadian discussion, and if other provinces are doing it better, shouldn’t we know about it, shouldn’t we be engaging with best practices?” Krishnapillai asks.

“Please join us. Please [help us] start off and grow it with us.”

Those interested can fill out a volunteer form that can be found on the ON COVID-19 website.