Online storybook hopes to help kids understand, cope amid COVID-19 pandemic

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 10 2020 10:25 PM

MANILA — From travel bans to physical distancing, much has changed in the world in the past couple of months with the spread of COVID-19.

With adults still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other humanitarian groups have found a way to help children cope, too.

Through the collaboration of more than 50 international organizations, the storybook “My Hero Is You, How Kids Can Fight COVID-19!” was released online to teach children how to “protect themselves, their families and friends from coronavirus and how to manage difficult emotions when confronted with a new and rapidly changing reality.”

The book is meant for children aged 6 to 11 years old and features a dragon-like creature named Ario.

One scene shows Ario explaining to a child why travel has become limited while another scene deals with physical distancing.

“Previous humanitarian emergencies have shown us how vital it is to address the fears and anxiety of young people when life as they know it gets turned upside down,” said WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“We hope that this beautifully illustrated book, which takes children on a journey across time zones and continents, will help them to understand what they can do to stay positive and keep safe during the coronavirus outbreak.”

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, added: “This is an important resource for children around the world with a strong message of inclusion at its heart – that this pandemic can only be beaten if everyone is included in its prevention and response.

“Children, including those who are refugees, displaced and stateless, can help too. No one is protected unless we are all protected.”

The book is a project of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, a collaboration of UN agencies, national and international nongovernmental organizations, and international agencies.

The storybook was a result of interviews with more than 1,700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world who shared how they were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The input was invaluable to scriptwriter and illustrator Helen Patuck and the project team in making sure that the story and its messages resonated with children from different backgrounds and continents.” The WHO said.

The PDF version of the book in several languages can be downloaded here.