Generation Covid: a film on the havoc wrought on the next American generation
I’ve been working on a documentary film that tells the stories of children, adolescents and families impacted by prolonged school closures and other harmful restrictions.
This is a The Dossier contributor post by Jennifer Sey.
She is an author, filmmaker, business executive, and retired artistic gymnast. She was the 1986 USA Gymnastics National Champion, produced the Emmy award-winning documentary “Athlete A,” and has written two memoirs, “Chalked Up” and, more recently, “Levi’s Unbuttoned,” which chronicles her 23-year career at the company, where she rose to become its Global Brand President. She writes regularly at Sey Everything.
As someone who very publicly challenged both the efficacy and ethics of public school closures right from the beginning of lockdowns – and ultimately lost my job for having done so – one might say I’m invested in this issue.
And so, for the last year and a half, I’ve been working on a documentary film that tells the stories of children, adolescents and families impacted by prolonged school closures and other harmful restrictions.
The film is called Generation Covid.
We interviewed young people and their families in cities and small towns across America – in Colorado, California, Florida, Connecticut, New York and Oregon. In delving into these kids’ lives, it became abundantly clear: the kids are not alright. This generation faces devastating setbacks including learning loss, crushing mental health challenges, record-high absenteeism, substance abuse and addiction, lost opportunity and increased uncertainty about their futures. All because schools were forcibly closed during covid.
School provides not only an education for children but structure and community. And, for many, school provides necessary services – food, shelter, mental health support, abuse intervention and more. Countless young people were simply lost without school as the organizing principle in their lives.
Long past the time when adults resumed normalcy, children and adolescents continued to be onerously restricted, kept alone and isolated, in spite of clear data showing covid posed little threat to the young and healthy. And now, our children are paying the price. We all will, in the end.
Despite clear and incontrovertible evidence of the harms being done – especially to the most vulnerable children – political forces, bolstered by public health officials and a complicit media, sought to censor and vilify anyone who questioned the efficacy of these unprecedented and unscientific decisions.
We spoke with experts across a range of fields – doctors, scientists, journalists, teachers, lawyers, children’s advocates and mental health professionals – who sounded the alarm as to what was happening with our nation’s children in real time.
In offering expertise that challenged the mainstream narrative, these experts were demonized, censored, and ostracized in their communities. But they persisted. And today, they are working to pick up the pieces and make sure this never happens again.
This film will reveal the stark realities of post-covid America with a focus on the long-term harms done to a generation of children.
Here's the trailer:
So why make a film?
I believe in the power of art to move hearts and minds.
In 2008 I wrote a book called Chalked Up about my experience as an elite gymnast in the 1980s. It was a memoir about the emotional, physical and sexual abuse that is rampant in the sport of gymnastics. Four years after it was published, the celebrated coach of the 1984 women’s Olympic Team and the national team coach throughout the 1980s – a predator whom I travelled around the world with for competitions – was finally banned from the sport.
In 2020 I produced a film called Athlete A that won an Emmy for Best Documentary that year. It connected the crimes of Larry Nassar (the former Team USA Gymnastics doctor who has gone to prison for sexually abusing hundreds of young athletes) to widespread abuse in the sport.
The film started a movement. Gymnasts – some retired, some still competing – started a social media campaign, telling their stories of abuse at the hands of coaches, overlooked by the sports officials and governing bodies who should have kept them safe. The women and girls used the hashtag #gymnastalliance when they told their stories. The campaign led to investigations into the sports’ governing bodies around the world. And now, a new culture in gymnastics and the broader Olympic movement is being built, from the ground up. All because athletes insisted on change after seeing the film.
That is my hope for this film. We need so much more than acknowledgement that school closures were harmful and ineffective. We need accountability. Government leaders and public health officials can never again be permitted such control over our lives. Lockdowns and school closures were a gross violation of our civil liberties and have now wrought havoc on this generation of young people.
Every little bit helps. We need to edit the full-length film, pay for usage of archival footage and music, add graphics and finalize the color and sound and everything else that goes into making a world class documentary. Our plan is to finish the film in the next few months, secure distribution and release it in the spring of 2024. But we need your help to do it.
Let’s start a movement. Together.