Area teen talks about COVID-19

14-year-old Nevaeh Hollingsworth of Park Rapids felt restless and bored when schools closed. She decided to help the community by picking up trash on her daily walks around the neighborhood. Even now with distance learning, she is continuing her efforts, sometimes joined by her family. Lorie Skarpness/Enterprise.

For Nevaeh Hollingsworth, an eighth grader at Nevis School who lives in Park Rapids, COVID-19 was a concern even before schools closed.

While some students made jokes about the virus and said it was no worse than the flu, she said she always took it seriously.

“I was worried about my mom because she has a compromised immune system that puts her more at risk,” she said. “Still it was kind of hard to think it would hit Minnesota. We knew schools would be closing for a long time, but when we went to school that last day it was kind of surreal. It seemed like the last day of school. Everybody was saying their goodbyes and clearing out their lockers and it felt like we weren’t coming back. It was just an off day.”

Once school was out, Hollingsworth, feeling bored, decided to head out and pick up trash while walking around the neighborhood.

“She’s out every day,” Nevaeh’s mom, Naoma Mikel, said. “Now we are sometimes doing it on our family walks, too.”


Hollingsworth said she thought it would be good to do something for the community while she was walking.

“I see other people out walking and it’s a good way to say hi to the neighbors,” she said. “I stay farther than six feet away. Sometimes people give me a thumbs up as they drive by or say ‘good job,’ just random compliments like that.”

She said she used the time between getting out of school and when online classes started Monday to do things she enjoys. “I painted my room, got new furniture and rearranged it,” she said. “Also tried new hairstyles and outfits. Just random stuff like arts and crafts to keep myself busy. I like those craft kits to see how they work. It’s really fun to do. Even if it’s little kid stuff – I’m a little kid at heart.”

Hollingsworth has two brothers at home. Ningozis (which means “my son” in Ojibwe) Andreoff is three and Nakhi Hollingsworth is 15.

“It’s nice having siblings because they can keep you company and you can play games with them and have somebody to talk to,” Nevaeh said. “We’re trying to get along so it doesn’t stress my mom out. We’ve been getting along pretty well, actually and we talk more and hang out more now.”

Hollingsworth said she helps her mom with Ningozis, putting him down for naps and watching him so her mom can have some alone time.

They have baked brownies and cookies as a family, along with making some homemade playdough.

Hollingsworth said, since the governor’s shelter-in-place order, she stays in touch with friends on her phone.


“We text each other big time and talk to each other on Snapchat,” she said. “But I miss their presence, honestly. It’s so nice to have someone there with you, but it’s less lonely when we can at least talk.”

She said she feels safer and less worried now that most people are staying home. “But it’s hard because my stepdad still works in his own business, and we don’t know if he’s had contact with someone who has it but isn’t showing symptoms,” she said. “I've learned the precautions to take when we have a virus outbreak. It’s a great learning experience, because if something more serious happens in the future I’ll know what to do.”

She said this experience has also changed her outlook on life. “Sometimes I took things for granted,” she said. “I spend time with my family more because I know you don’t always have all of the time in the world with them, so you want to spend as much time with them as you can, especially when you’re stuck at home with them anyway.”

Hollingsworth said the distance learning that began Monday is fun and slightly easier than “normal school.”

“You aren’t rushed to do your homework because you have all day to do it,” she said. “But it’s harder to learn new stuff when you’re not with your teacher in person. And it’s much easier to get distracted at home.”

Making homemade playdough with her little brother, Nevaeh Hollingsworth, who said she is a kid at heart, takes time to play with him too. She said COVID-19 has helped her appreciate her family more, and watching her little brother also gives her mom some alone time.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
What To Read Next
Get Local