Global partners’ new story book to help young people cope with COVID-19

The World Health Organization (WHO) and dozens more humanitarian partners have produced a new story book to help children understand and come to terms with COVID-19.

In a truly global collaboration, UNICEF (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 are among more than 50 organisations involved in the project.

Helped by Ario, a fantasy creature, 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.

‘A unique collaboration’

Aimed mainly at children aged 6-11 years old, the book 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 organisations and international agencies providing mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings.

The early part of the project saw more than 1700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world share 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 ensuring the story and its messages resonated with children from different backgrounds and continents.

‘Understand and navigate this new landscape’

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.

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, said: “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.”

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‘Fears and anxiety of young people’

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said: 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.”

Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, said: “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.”

Download the book here

My Hero is You: all language versions

Author: Simon Weedy

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