Two Cork companies have come together to create a cartoon to explain COVID-19 to children, and following its initial success are now planning to make a full series following the central character, Sylvie Bloom.
Gail Condon, a UCC paediatric and general nursing graduate joined forces with Dog Day Media on the project to help educate children on the coronavirus through the eyes of six-year-old Sylvie, a character who inherits a book which explains scientific concepts.
In the animation, ‘Corona, corona, corona’, Sylvie talks about what the COVID-19 outbreak means with her guinea pig named Rua.
Together with her husband Dr Michael Carter, who works at the INFANT Centre in UCC, Gail had already developed a number of resources to help explain complex health issues to children through their companies Writing for Tiny and Tiny Health.
She was first inspired to start Writing for Tiny and Tiny Health while working as a paediatric nurse, when she would draw pictures for children to explain their diagnoses and help them to talk about their anxieties.
The idea to develop a series about Sylvie Bloom had been one which Gail said was in the pipeline for a while, but like much unpaid work, had been put on the long-finger.
However when measures were introduced in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus, they decided to create an animation about Sylvie who was stuck at home.
“I write the story and Dog Day Media's Eoin Devlin, Billy Cummings and William Bean produce animation. We work as a team,” Gail explained.
The project was created remotely, and as it was not possible to organise a voice-artist, Gail said they decided to invite her six-year-old daughter Rosie to voice the part.
“She was absolutely perfect. When you write, you write what you know, and I wrote the character as Rosie,” she explains.
The cartoon featured on RTÉ’s Home School Hub and has already had thousands of views online.
Gail says she thinks the animation can help children understand what the coronavirus is by using a relatable voice.
Now that Sylvie has been put into animation, Gail says that they plan to develop the series around her saying that the COVID-19 pandemic meant in this case that something “put on the long finger ended up being fast-forwarded.”
The character will explore STEM issues and questions amongst other themes.
“Sylvie will have a strong voice, and she will deal with questions including the vastness of the universe, and she’ll address concerns,” Gail explained.
The animation can be viewed online at: https://tinyhealth.info/super-stayhome-girl/