Something New: Covid Living
Created by poet Koleka Putuma and illustrator Ivyy Chen, this animation beautifully captures young people’s approach to dealing with the challenges of Covid-19 lockdowns.
In India, the same 5,000-word essay is read for the third time.
In Essex, concentration is interrupted by mindless scrolling through social media.
In Kenya, the circle rotates in the center of the screen.
In Tokyo, Berlin, Malawi, a little garden buries the weight of raw and relentless grief.
In time, the essay will be read in-between YouTube knitting tutorials.
Social media scrolling will be traded for a 10,000-piece puzzle.
Deep breaths will wait out unreliable internet.
Spring will grow where grief was once planted.
'Something new' will be the thing most Googled.
Curiosity will nudge hands toward new experiments.
People around you will also dive into things that will make them recognisable on most days and not so much on others.
In time, corners of the map will hold ceremonies of;
New and old connections.
Unmuted mics and awkward virtual gatherings.
Panic attacks that are given another name so that others can address you without needing to be excused or changing the subject.
But, there will also be ceremonies where the world will not feel as heavy as the night before, where mornings will start with dancing, and prayers, and stillness.
Over time, the globe will have spun us all out of the familiar.
We will not return the same, and this too, will be ok.
All the things we would have tried, discarded and gathered over this time are building a lifeline and compass for our future selves – who will know how to hold and guide us should our worlds ever pause or spin into uncertainty again.
In 2020, Wellcome partnered with creative agency Flying Object to explore how young people have managed their mental health during and after Covid-19 lockdowns. The Covid Living project experimented with different methods and activities to enable 14-to-24-year-olds to share their experiences, including a series of creative challenges.
Inspired by the young peoples’ experiences, Koleka Putuma wrote a poem which has been made into this animated film by Ivyy Chen. It is a moving meditation on how the collective pandemic experience has impacted young people and communities around the world.
Our museum and library, Wellcome Collection, also hosted a discussion about young people’s approaches to mental health, wellbeing and self-care in the time of Covid-19 as part of their youth programme.