Hampton started a nonprofit called “Including You” earlier this year as a peer-to-peer mentorship program that aims to connect kids with disabilities or face economic disparities over the internet.
Now, however, the nonprofit is connecting kids with more than just each other; Daisy has donated 200 laptops to kids in need since the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shift to online learning.
“In my past school, I saw kids that had disabilities were being made fun of, and kids facing economic disparities were missing out on a lot, especially during remote learning,” Daisy told Fox News. “When that started, I saw that kids who didn’t have access to internet weren’t able to attend school, and they were missing out on so much of their education, and the schools weren’t really doing as much as they could have to get computers out to kids.”
Hampton, Daisy’s mother, said that while the teachers at Daisy’s old public school were great, other administrative issues and unforeseen circumstances left some students without laptops even as classes started taking place online last March.
The 12-year-old recalled seeing these disparities even before COVID-19 struck New York City when her classmates would complete homework on school computers during recess due to a lack of internet service or devices at home.
Daisy herself has since transferred to a new school, where she can learn in person, but she continues to have an impact both on her old school and schools across the country.
After winning a cash reward for her leadership as a Girl Scout, Daisy used her earnings to buy a laptop for a girl who needed one because she was missing months of classes due to the fact that she had no computer.
“With that Girl Scout money, I purchased the computer and we met up with her in front of her building, and I handed her the laptop. We took pictures. We talked. And I could see that both her and her mom were very, very grateful and filled with joy,” Daisy said.
Daisy gave another example of a laptop recipient — a girl in high school — who was shared her father’s phone, which he would leave at home when he went to work, with her brother to participate in classes because she did not have access to a computer.
Since then, Daisy has garnered donations from friends, family, and a GoFundMe, as well as funds from selling merchandise through her nonprofit, to give away about 200 laptops in total so far.
Daisy has raised more than $15,000 through her GoFundMe page titled “#KidsNeedConnection” so far.
Hampton noted that New York City is not the only place facing this issue of some students being without the resources they need for virtual learning, even a year into the pandemic. She said that unforeseen issues — such as a broken laptop — make it difficult for children to obtain new devices.
Lengthy applications and school backlogs combined with language barriers or long work hours among parents make the process harder for some families compared to others, she explained.
“Every single parent does the best that they can. … Everybody has a different situation in life, and so different obstacles present themselves,” Hampton said.
Daisy said most laptop recipients express “a lot of gratitude” for her donations.
“Seeing that joy of being able to attend remote learning again and join calls and see their friends and teachers … seeing how happy they are not only makes me realize how grateful I am and how fortunate I am to have access to devices to school, but it also makes me very joyful to see how these kids are able to attend school again when they’ve been months without a computer and missing out on so much,” the 12-year-old said.
Hampton said laptop donations from corporations that are no longer using as many computers due to a shift to remote work will help her daughter donate more laptops to kids in need across the country.
“Corporations should think about all of these computers that are no longer in use and probably never will be and what a resource it would be for these kids to have them. What a lifeline,” Hampton said.
Donations made through Daisy’s GoFundMe will also help her collect more laptops for those in need, she added.
The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine and other educational groups have advocated for a shift back to in-person learning, citing the disparities that leave some students worse off than others while taking virtual classes.
“Districts should weigh the relative health risks of reopening against the educational risks of providing no in-person instruction in Fall 2020,” the panel wrote in a July report.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that there were “unintended consequences of COVID-19 mitigation strategies,” such as school and business closures, that have hurt minority communities, leading to “lost wages, unemployment and loss of health insurance as a result of business closures,” as well as “stress and social isolation because of restrictions on social gatherings.”
The CDC issued school reopening guidance in February, which President Biden has said he will follow, saying that schools can safely reopen so as long as they implement mitigation strategies including health data analyses, mandatory masks and six-foot social distancing.