My hero is you – new children’s book released to support children to cope with COVID-19
A new children’s book, the result of collaborative efforts by more than 50 organisations working in the humanitarian sector, aims to help children understand and come to terms with COVID-19.
Through the story of the main character, a fantasy creature called Ario, children are guided on a journey which explains how they 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 work includes perspectives from the World Health Organization, 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, all of whom are members 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.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, explained that previous humanitarian emergencies have shown how vital it is to address the fears and anxiety of children and 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,” he added.
During the early stages of the project, more than 1,700 children, parents, caregivers and educators from around the world shared how they were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, a contribution which script writer and illustrator Helen Patuck and the project team said was “invaluable” in ensuring that the story and its messages resonated with children from different backgrounds and continents.
“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,” Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director said.
Filippo Grandi, UNHCR, said “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”.
Six language versions of the book have been released, with 30 others in the pipeline, in order to ensure the book reaches as many children as possible. The book is available online, as well as in audiobook format.