A pair of physicians at UVA Health have produced a children’s book for communities of color that are being disproportionately stricken by COVID-19. The free book is both a guide for staying healthy and a tool to help children cope with the stress and grief the pandemic may bring.
The book, “We’re Going to be O.K,” has been recognized as one of the top 5 – among 256 entries – in the Emory Global Health Institute’s COVID-19 Children’s eBook Competition.
UVA physicians Ebony Jade Hilton, MD, and Leigh-Ann Webb, MD, partnered with illustrator Ashleigh Corrin Webb to tell the story of Parker, a young African-American child, as he learns about COVID-19 from his parents and how the pandemic will change his day-to-day routines.
“My inspiration was fueled by knowing that the enemy of fear is information,” said Hilton, who has authored two other children’s books. “So the purpose of this book was to inform and empower while at the same time allowing for vulnerability. The addition of the latter, to allow children to express their emotions of grief and anxiety, was particularly important. We unfortunately know that some kids will experience the loss of a parent or a sibling, and we wanted them to have an outlet to write or draw out those thoughts. To give them a safe space to fully heal.”
Designed for children ages 5-9, the book provides information about staying healthy during COVID-19 as well as mental-health support designed for young children. As frontline African-American physicians helping deal with a pandemic that has disproportionately affected African-American and Hispanic communities, Hilton and Webb believe it was important to tell this story through the eyes of an African-American family.
“One of the most rewarding aspect of the project was being able to create a meaningful work of art to reach all communities, but specifically communities of color,” said Webb. “As I mom of two, I know it's important for black and brown children to see main characters that look like them. Ashleigh is a talented illustrator. She did a fantastic job.”
The creators’ goal is for the book to help children and families deal with the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.
“I hope children are comforted in knowing that their feelings are valid,” Ashleigh Webb added. “I hope this book helps them address those feelings and also equips them to take action using both the tips and workbook-style pages we created.”
The book can be downloaded here: http://globalhealth.emory.edu/pdfs/GoingToBeOk_FINAL1.pdf