By Damian Cristodero
For Peyton Moore, one of the inconveniences of online learning at home has been the overwhelming number of emails coming to her inbox. And that doesn’t include the 30 or so in her secondary email waiting for her attention.
Moore, you see, has a side gig going. The senior psychology major at Sullivan Foundation partner school George Mason University is creating videos as Queen Elsa from the Disney movie “Frozen,” which parents can play for their antsy homebound youngsters.
“With everybody staying inside because of COVID-19, it just feels good to give back and spread some positivity,” Moore said. “I just didn’t expect it to get as much traction as it did.”
Related: Mercer University students make reading fun for kids in Freedom School program
Moore got the idea from a theater friend who thought of sending videos to children dressed up as Glinda, the good witch from “The Wizard of Oz.” Moore already had a Queen Elsa costume from a previous job working at kids’ birthday parties. So she put up a video offer on Facebook, which her friends amplified through their social media channels.
Parents responded, with some asking that the videos contain special messages.
The videos, done in Moore’s Virginia Beach home, are approximately five minutes long. If no special message is needed, she said she simply talks up the good job the kids are doing keeping up with chores or homework. She also acknowledges how difficult it is for them to be away from their friends.
Moore said she does the videos for free. Parents who ask to pay her are encouraged to instead contribute to one of the charities Moore suggests.
To accommodate the demand, Moore, who is taking four classes this semester and doing virtual job training for a post-graduation position in applied behavioral analysis, has had to carefully manage her time.
Mason has been a good fit, said Moore, who transferred from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her psychology professors are “amazing” because of their experience in the field, she said. And she particularly likes that they and the university are so helpful in finding career options and suggesting opportunities for continuing education.
Related: How Josh Nadzam outran poverty and uses art to change kids’ lives
“She’s really curious and eager to jump into areas that are new to her,” said University Professor June Tangney, who is assisted by Moore on a National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded research project designed to facilitate people’s transition from jail into the community. “She really has a very mature and empathetic perspective on the challenges people face.”
No surprise, then, that Moore, who has been profiled by the Virginia Pilot for her work, is giving homebound children a thrill as Queen Elsa.
“I had one parent send me a video of her two kids singing for me, which was cute,” Moore said. “Other than that, parents just send me the reaction of their kids. ‘Oh, they love it. It made them so happy. They’ve played it a million times.’ It’s really helps me stay motivated to get up and put makeup on sometimes.”
“She’s very creative,” Tangney said. “It’s wonderful.”
This article was edited slightly from the original version appearing on the George Mason University website.