GENEVA/NEW YORK – A new story book that aims to help children understand and come to terms with COVID-19 has been produced by a collaboration of more than 50 organizations working in the humanitarian sector, including the World Health Organization (WHO) , the United Nations Children’s Fund , the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) , the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Save the Children.
With the help of a fantasy creature, Ario, “My Hero is You, How kids can fight COVID-19!” explains how children can 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 – aimed primarily at children aged 6-11 years old – is a project of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, a unique collaboration of United Nations agencies, national and international nongovernmental organizations and international agencies providing mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings.
During the early stages of the project, more than 1700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world shared how they were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. The input was invaluable to script writer 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.
In order to reach as many children as possible, the book will be widely translated, with six language versions released today and more than 30 others in the pipeline. It is being released as both an online product and audio book.
Quotes from collaborating partners
World Health Organization
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General
“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. 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.”
Henrietta Fore, Executive Director
“All over the world, children’s lives have been completely upended – the majority of them living in countries with some form of restricted movement or lockdown. This wonderful book helps children understand and navigate this new landscape and learn how they can take small actions to become the heroes in their own stories.”
Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“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”.
Audrey Azoulay, Director General
“Sharing facts and reliable information is vital to respond to COVID-19, and I wish to commend the creativity and passion of all artists, writers and publishers who find compelling ways to translate and craft stories and artwork so they can reach children and families to comfort and guide them through a distressing situation. UNESCO is proud to support this initiative and we see this as an example of the contribution of the artistic community to the well-being and resilience of all.”