Teachers College Banner with Gabe Cochard wearing mask

Preventative measures against COVID-19 work. Senior nursing major Gabe Cochard knows this from a real-life experience this summer at a children’s camp. In the following article, he shares how preventative measures kept the camp safe and can work here—starting with everyone taking the Cardinals Cares Pledge.

By Gabe Cochard

Have you seen the 60-foot tall student on the side of Teachers College?

That’s me, and I’m wearing a mask now, both in real life and in the giant two-dimensional version of myself.

This Summer, the University reached out to me to get my approval for installing a vinyl application on the existing banner to make it look like the image of me is wearing a mask. The modification is part of an effort to support the new #CardinalsCare campaign to promote health and safety this Fall.

My answer? Absolutely.

As a nursing major, I understand the science behind mask  wearing, hand washing, physical distancing, and all the other best practices for preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Furthermore, I have applied those measures in real life and have seen how effective they are.

Firsthand experience

In recent months, I worked at The Ark, an overnight summer camp outside Marion for kids age kindergarten through high school. The Ark was one of the few overnight camps able to operate in Indiana this year, and it did so with advice from medically trained staff members like myself.

Another nursing student at Indiana Wesleyan University and I wrote 10 pages of protocols for the camp.

We required mask wearing. We kept campers in small cohorts. We stayed outside the cabins and buildings as much as possible. We did everything we could to keep campers safe.

The result of our efforts?

Not a single camper or staff member became sick.

Take the Cardinals Care Pledge

Gabe Cochard
”The University does everything it can to make sure that its students excel in their area of study,” says Gabe.

I’m sharing this story to encourage and motivate the student body at Ball State, all of our campus community, and beyond.

Collectively, we are experiencing an unprecedented amount of mixed emotions as we return to campus this August for one of the most critical semesters in school history. Like those summer campers, we long to see our friends and to share in a sense of community and common purpose.

Yet, it won’t be the same as in years before.

A successful on-campus semester will require small daily sacrifices from all of us. There will be times when we become frustrated, times when the masks become hot on our faces and our hands become chapped from the increased washing.

But I’m here to tell you: don’t give in; keep your guard up; stay vigilant.

Don’t do it for yourself. Do it for your friends. Or, think of an employee on campus who matters to you, maybe a professor or adviser or the friendly dining employee you interact with daily, someone whose age puts him or her at increased risk. Let that person motivate you.

This Fall has so much potential. But it’s up to us, the students, to make sure it’s a success. We must behave and act in ways that promote the best interest of the entire university.

If my summer camp experience is any indication, we can do this.

You can start by submitting the Cardinal Cares pledge online. The pledge asks you to commit to caring for yourself, for other Cardinals, and for our campus and community, and it highlights actions you can take, from staying home when you feel sick to covering your cough and sneeze.

And, yes, wear a mask.

If the 60-foot version of me can do it, so can you.

Take the pledge at bsu.edu/CardinalsCare.