WHO launches storybook to help children understand COVID-19

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With lockdowns, curfews and increased rules implemented across the world to tackle the spread of COVID-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a children’s storybook to help them understand the disease.

The book titled “My Hero is You, Storybook for Children on 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 will be available as both an online product and audiobook. It is aimed primarily at children aged 6-11 years old.

Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that previous humanitarian emergencies have shown 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,” he said.

The project was initiated by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings.

It was produced by a collaboration of more than 50 organizations working in the humanitarian sector, including the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Save the Children.

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, noted that all over the world, children’s lives have been completely upended with the majority of them living in countries with some form of restricted movement or lockdown.

She said the 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.”

In order to reach as many children as possible, the book is available in six language versions and more than 30 others in the pipeline.

The WHO said 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 story resonates with children from different backgrounds and continents.

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees noted that it 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.

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO also noted that sharing facts and reliable information is vital to respond to COVID-19.

As of April 09, there have been 1,436,198 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 85,522 deaths, reported to WHO.

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