Linguists part of global team behind COVID-19 children’s book
1 July 2021
A group of Cardiff linguists are part of the global team behind the dissemination of a new book designed to help children through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professor Claire Gorrara, Dean of Research and Innovation for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Lucy Jenkins, National Coordinator of the MFL Student Mentoring Project, and Honorary Professor Loredana Polezzi, of the School of Modern Languages, have collaborated with the University of Namibia (UNAM) to support the translation and dissemination of the book My Hero is You, How kids can fight COVID-19!
The book was instigated by the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings and it aims to explain 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.
Due to the global nature and spread of the disease, the team behind the book made it their mission to ensure that all children could access this important information in their own language. With versions available in 143 languages and a total of 50+ adaptations to date, My Hero is You, How kids can fight COVID-19! is one of the most translated UN documents ever.
The Cardiff team built on their existing working relationship with UNAM which has been developed via Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project, an initiative which seeks to reduce poverty, promote health and support sustainable environmental development.
Gorrara, Jenkins and Polezzi (who is currently D’Amato Chair in Italian American and Italian Studies at Stony Brook University, US) worked collaboratively via a number of workshops with professors and students from UNAM to produce translations of the book into five of the indigenous languages of Namibia: Oshiwambo, Silozi, Khoekhoegowab, Otjiherero and Rukwangali. The books are now being printed for physical dissemination in Namibia and the possibility of producing braille copies is also being investigated.
My Hero is You, How kids can fight COVID-19! was written and illustrated by Helen Patuck and was informed by a global survey to assess children’s mental health and psychosocial needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. Over 1,700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world took the time to share how they were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. A framework of topics to be addressed through the story was developed using the survey results. The book was shared through storytelling to children in several countries affected by COVID-19. Feedback from children, parents and caregivers has been used and will continue to be used in future to review and update the story.
The United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings is a unique collaboration of United Nations agencies, national and international nongovernmental organisations and international agencies providing mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings.
Further information on the project can be found in a Highlight Report on the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s website.