Covey Bear to help children share their voices and record experiences through COVID-19

by Freya Lucas

October 21, 2020

A new project led by Universities around Australia is seeking to give children an opportunity to share their experiences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, hoping to record a broad range of perspectives from children aged between three and twelve years.

 

The Bear in a Window survey asks children to tell a mascot, Covey Bear, two stories about life in lockdown. The children are invited to speak into a tablet or laptop/desktop computer to capture audio about their experiences.

 

Lead researcher, sociolinguist Associate Professor Barbara Kelly, said that in the Spanish Flu pandemic lots of adult perspectives were documented but not child perspectives. 

 

“Children’s voices have often been left out of important historical events. We think it’s important  to hear what children are thinking and feeling, in their own words,” she added.

 

While the researchers expected to hear statements like “I miss my friends” or “I like not having to go to school” they have instead been “surprised and delighted” by the candid and “hilariously specific” observations children have made about what’s happening in their world. 

 

“We got one child who said, ‘I don’t like it when my classmates are on Zoom and they eat snacks too noisily.’ Another said what they liked about lockdown was ‘getting to eat gnocchi for lunch.’”

 

As well as supporting children to have their voices and perspectives recorded for prosperity, co-investigator Dr Chloé Diskin-Holdaway said that the project will also provide a valuable opportunity to improve speech-to-text technology, especially for Australian English.

 

Researchers hope that the stories will also contribute to archive projects to “keep a record of the extraordinary time that is the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

Those who wish to access the survey or participate in the project can find more information here. 

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