Quarantining walloped millions of American teens. Abruptly cut off from school, friends, sports and real-life socializing, they found themselves isolated and anxious. A campaign spearheaded by Claire’s Place Foundation, a nonprofit serving those with cystic fibrosis, swooped in to rescue them, turning teens with cystic fibrosis into social-distancing ambassadors.

CF patients are vulnerable to infections, so they have lived and thrived under lockdowns and restrictions their entire lives — and that makes them the perfect experts to guide their peers. And by seizing the COVID-19 problem, the campaign raises awareness of what it’s like to live with CF.

To make sure teens would pay attention, it analyzed the visual and verbal styles of the most popular influencers on social media, incorporating quick cuts, bright colors and sticker-style art. 

It then helped the Social Distance Squad spread helpful messages across Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, showcasing stories, skills and advice. From how to stay close when you can’t be physically close to dating during quarantine, the upbeat messages helped teens feel less alone.

The Social Distance Squad also made virtual classroom visits with live Q&As, where students could ask questions based on their particular challenges. And it offered moderated  Q&As for schools it couldn’t visit.

Kicked off with just $4,500, the Social Distance Squad totaled more than 20 million media impressions. It also notched a 110% increase in awareness of the daily realities of living with CF, leading to enhanced empathy and understanding. Participating advocacy organizations reported a 148% increase in engagement.