How Palmetto Students Have Given Back During COVID-19


Valentina Caceres

Sofia Palacios and her brother, Gabriel, demonstrate how to bake a Halloween treat for their class (photo courtesy of Palacios).

Valentina Caceres, Senior Multimedia Editor

Seeing how hard the community has taken a hit from COVID-19, Palmetto’s students have taken the initiative of creating community service projects in these past months to help out. Though health guidelines make running these projects much more challenging, these young leaders adapted to the situation and came up with innovative ways to give back to their communities at a time so crucial.

Palmetto Junior Brooke Young has found a way to make good use of her old dance costumes through her project, Brooke’s Costume Closet. 

“Coincidentally, I made a TikTok about how many costumes I have…  I thought… how can I put this to better use?” Young said. “And a bunch of my friends were relating to that so it inspired me to create this project.” 

Partnering with Chapman Partnership, Young donates the costumes she collects to less-fortunate kids. With Halloween around the corner, Young hopes she can help the kids celebrate. 

“I’m just doing as much as I can to liven spirits, especially those at Chapman Partnership who don’t have as much,” Young said. “I’m pretty fortunate to have all these costumes… I’m really hoping to just put a smile on their faces, even under the mask.”

In the future, Young also hopes to partner with dance studios that may need these costumes for less-fortunate dancers. 

“This means a lot to me because, you know, I’m a dancer, and I have a bunch of costumes laying around,” Young said. 

After her first-hand experience with how the quarantine has affected kids with Autism, Palmetto Senior Sofia Palacios decided to start her project, Cooking with Gabriel & Sofia, to serve as a form of social skills therapy for them. Once a month, she hosts a free cooking class on Zoom, where her and her younger brother work through easy recipes with around 10 other kids, ages eight through 13. 

“I wanted to give these kids something to look forward to during quarantine and a way for them to interact, because social interaction is limited because of our current situation right now, and it’s important for them to work on their social skills because it’s one of the parts that is most affected by Autism throughout the spectrum,” Palacios said. 

Through her partnership with UM-CARD and Design Therapy of Miami, Palacios has been able to not only help these kids during such a hard time, but their families too. 

“I’ve received a lot of emails and pictures from the parents saying that I’m doing something that’s never been done before for these kids and that they’re so grateful because these kids look forward to it and they have fun,” Palacios said. 

Her project has recently earned her the title of UM-CARD’s Volunteer of the Year, but she hopes her work can also convey a message for the whole community. 

“I want the community to learn that everybody deserves a place in society… learn more about Autism and how things have to be a little different for them sometimes but that doesn’t mean that they should be excluded from regular activities,” Palacios said.

  Young people have the power and creativity needed to adjust to the current situation. With just a little initiative, everyone can do their part, whether big or small, to give back to their community at a time so crucial.