Teens with Cystic Fibrosis Form Squad Teaching Others How to Socially Distance

Creative 75 Add to collection
The Social Distance Squad from AREA 23 and five leading cystic fibrosis (CF) nonprofits help teens learn how to deal with Covid-19 restrictions like CF teens do
Teens with Cystic Fibrosis Form Squad Teaching Others How to Socially Distance

Teens and tweens with cystic fibrosis (CF) are trying to teach other teens a thing or two about social distancing as part of The Social Distance Squad, a program developed by AREA 23, an FCB Health Network company, in partnership with five leading cystic fibrosis (CF) nonprofits. The program positions kids with CF as social distancing experts who can help other teens cope with social distancing measures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Individuals with CF are required to social distance due to their genetic condition. AREA 23 recognised that a team of young CF teens and tweens could help other teens by banding together to share their lockdown tips, wisdom and support.

The outbreak of Covid-19 and the need to implement social distancing measures has hit teens especially hard. They have been cut off from their social circles during their formative years, missed out on key events and have been left searching for guidance on how to be social while social distancing. Identifying this need, AREA 23 brought together Claire’s Place Foundation (Los Angeles, CA), Piper’s Angels (Jupiter, FL), the Bonnell Foundation (Detroit, MI), Attain Health (Red Lodge, MT) and the Boomer Esiason Foundation (New York, NY).

AREA 23 developed a creative, multichannel platform that elevates young people with CF to the role of thought leaders and influencers, providing expert advice to teens as members of The Social Distance Squad. This platform facilitates the sharing of encouraging and inspiring stories, and quick tips ranging from how to stay connected and happy during lockdowns, to how to talk with friends about agreeing to social distancing ground rules to safely visit or get together. They have connected with teens through social media videos, virtually visiting learning institutions, and by providing a direct pathway for young people to share what they are struggling with related to their COVID-19 world and ask for personalised advice from The Social Distance Squad.

“The reaction has been immediate. We’ve seen kids in virtual classes express a different outlook after meeting with the Squad, seeing opportunities instead of frustrations,” said Logan Allanson, AREA 23 creative director and Cannes Lions 2019 Grand Prix winner. “And it’s not just kids being uplifted, but teachers and parents too. We could all learn a lot from the Squad.”

The Social Distance Squad first connected with teens in early Spring and has been expanding ever since. Originally, the CF experts partnered with teachers to make appearances in virtual school classrooms across the country, where they led interactive Q&A sessions and shared the tips they’ve honed from their lifetime’s worth of experience with social distancing to stay healthy. As the campaign evolved, members of the Social Distance Squad created and shared video lessons about staying healthy and happy on Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok. With the most recent expansion, teens can now sign up for mediated one-on-one and group sessions with Squad members to request expert advice on the areas that have been their greatest concern. As the program continues to expand and evolve, more teens can join the Squad to share their tips and experiences. 

“With each iteration, we’re continuing to find new ways for young people and the general public to learn from the Social Distance Squad,” said AREA 23 creative directors Andy Gerchak and Pamela Savage. Their cystic fibrosis may put them at higher risk of lung infections, but it’s also made them uniquely qualified to help everyone stay safe and happy.”

“To be able to spread my knowledge and lifelong experiences of social distancing with teens and young adults has been tremendously impactful for both me and the participants,” said Leah Schwanke, a senior member and mentor of The Social Distance Squad. “I hope my lockdown lesson shows teens that you can live a purposeful and happy life while maintaining social distance precautions. Young people need to know that the CF community has been doing this for years. If we can do it and stay happy and healthy, they can do it too.”

In addition to helping young people cope with the newfound challenges of social distancing, the initiative serves to raise awareness and increase understanding among the general public of the strength, innovation and positivity of the CF community.


Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.
AREA 23, an FCB Health Network company

CCO: Tim Hawkey

ACD: Jay Gertelman 

SVP Creative Director: Logan Allanson 

SVP Creative Director: Andy Gerchak

SVP Creative Director: Pamela Savage 

VP CD Design: Eduardo Taveares 

ACD: Maghan Patenaude 

Art Supervisor: Roberta Totaro 

Copy Supervisor: Angela Williams 

Account Supervisor: Lydia Sine 

SVP Director Integrated Production: Jennifer Ma 

VP Director Integrated Production: Miona Mui 

Senior Producer: Paddy Giordano 

Senior Producer: Cassie Diehm 

Senior Producer: Keith Haitkin 

VP Director Technology and Digital Production: Bill Hanff

ACD Art and Design: Arthur Daraujo 

Group Art Supervisor: Emily Carman 

Senior Art Director: Katelyn Baumann 

Art Director: Sarah McKinnon

Junior Art Director: Carolina Sanchez 

Junior Copywriter: Patrick Egan

Junior Art Director: Omar Inca 

Junior Art Director: Sabrina Koenig 

Junior Copywriter: Sarah Vallecillo

Junior Copywriter: Ethan Victor 

VP ACD: Ronnie Caltabiano 

VP Senior Producer: Anna Lopez 

SVP Group Engagement: KC Dickerson 

Studio Rx, an FCB Health Network company

VP Creative Director Content: Paul Belliveau 

Motion Graphics Designer: Max Wolkowitz 

Audio Engineer: Joel Stearns 

Executive Producer: Kelly Rice 

Producer: Mara Chase 

Editor: Gary Greco 

FCB Global

Global Creative Partner: Fred Levron 

Global Communications Director: Melanie Mitchem 

Corporate Communications Manager: Marisa McWilliams 

Crew Cuts 

Editor: Gwen Grillo 

Editor: Liam Fitzmaurice 

Editor: Jesse Samaritano 

Editor: Diana Seldin 

Producer: Nancy Jacobsen 

Producer: Michelle Bellaff

Area 23, An FCB Health Network Company, 1 month ago