West Tamar Youth Advisory Council members never expected COVID-19 would lead to them becoming social media performers, but that's exactly the effect the disease had on some of Northern Tasmania's most motivated young people.
The YAC usually helps run a range of events, from school holiday outings, to camps and activities at the Beaconsfield and Legana Youth Centres.
COVID-19 put all those activities on hold and forced YAC members to find new ways of engaging with their peers, West Tamar Council's youth development officer Andrew Beeston said.
"YAC immediately commenced weekly catch ups in order to remain connected," Mr Beeston said.
"Our initiatives that we've launched in recent weeks have been an important focus for us, as the new 2020-2022 Youth Strategy was coming into full swing before COVID-19."
Social media solution
YAC member Belinda Turmine, 18, said the pandemic pushed the group to think more about fun ways they could connect with young people online.
As a result, the nursing student from Summerhill now conducts regular interviews with talented Tasmanians, live on Instagram.
"I think it was brought up late last year, that we should bring our presence more online as well as in the community," Ms Turmine said.
"We started organising all these different sorts of things. We started the Instagram page and we were building on that and then this pandemic happened."
Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, Ms Turmine found using Instagram to interview Tasmanian talent who young people could relate to or be entertained by, was an effective way to stay connected with peers.
"I go live on the Instagram page and I do interviews. It's really fun, it's a great opportunity.
"I was worried I would run out of things to say or run out of things to talk about and questions to ask."
Hannah Lawes, from the Northern Tasmanian band Just Flare, and comedian Dylan Hesp were two recent artists Ms Turmine interviewed on Instagram.
"I'd never really interviewed someone else, I've been interviewed a couple of times and watched a lot of interviews and stuff like that," she said.
"Preparing definitely helps. Setting up a list of questions or coming up with some ideas for activities to do.
"Like with Dylan we did some Star Wars trivia and we did some Pictionary as well which was cool."
Like Instagram, Ms Turmine said YouTube was another platform the YAC members embraced.
"We couldn't do meetings or get out into the community and do the festivals and events we normally do so we decided to start a YouTube channel to do different challenges, build our base of people that follow us and create fun things for children to do while they're in quarantine to get them active, using their brains and outside."
Creative potential unleashed
YAC member Isabel Partridge, 14, said YouTube was a platform youth could use to be as "creative as they want".
"Every week I film an intro video for the Monday Funday sketches," the Riverside teen said.
"I usually do the kindness and the physical challenges, just to give me something to do."
The challenges provided a "tonne of light in this dark time", Ms Partridge said.
"I've done some small clips here and there, I did a dance battle sketch against a yak where I was a panda which was fun.
"I also filmed a smashing apples skit with cricket bats."
Cooking, study tips shared
In addition to entertaining young people, the YAC YouTube channel is also a source of handy advice YAC member Jacinta Antoniazzi, 21, often provides.
The Winkleigh law student appears in videos which equip young people with new skills. Ms Antoniazzi said her first video aimed to help young people adjust to learning online during the pandemic.
"A lot of my friends were struggling with online learning so I said to them 'just come and chat to me and I'll help you out where I can because I've done online learning before'," Ms Antoniazzi said.
"There's an origami video of a paper crane and then I did a few cooking videos."
With a mum who is a chef, Ms Antoniazzi's culinary skills are proving popular with online audiences.
"I know that not everyone knows how to cook so I thought 'we're all in iso, what a great time to start'.
"I started with fettuccine because as a uni student that's something I make quite frequently in Hobart."
Ms Antoniazzi said she enjoyed making the videos because it was "nice to be able to help people".
Online content welcomed
The content creation efforts of YAC members had positive results, Mr Beeston said.
"Our Instagram and Facebook audience has increased in the past month with more interaction happening with young people than previous months," he said.
As well as embracing social media, Mr Beeston said the YAC also created a new website and continued some offline activities.
"It will become a central platform for all youth related programs, opportunities and support, as well as being an interactive engagement for local young people.
"YAC conducted a colouring-in competition over the school holidays to encourage connection and community. The drawings were created by local cartoonist Ben Winwood, who has previously helped us with creations and the competition was a success."
To ensure youth were supported during the pandemic, the West Tamar Council Youth Services team sent care packages to YAC members and competition winners, Mr Beeston said.
"The packages includes goodies, mental health support...and personalised gifts. The packages are sometimes dropped at the door of the young people and there's an opportunity to check-in with the family to see how they are going from a safe distance and for a brief time.
"We will continue to send out care packages to YAC members as a form of encouragement for them, and to also keep them focused on representing the young people of the West Tamar."
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Mr Beeston said the YAC members also recently collaborated with Launceston's Youth Advisory Council to run a hashtag competition which invited people to post content related to how they had been staying home and saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The YAC members are also in the process of developing a pump track, youth mayor program and re-engaging with the Pitch Your Project to YAC and look forward to the progress of these opportunities," he said.