Inspiring kids to feel empowered in science drives the work of Anna Wirta Kosobuski, EdD, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences on the Medical School’s Duluth campus. She partners with tribal communities to meet the educational needs of Native youth, designing culturally-safe programming for K-6 students of the Bois Forte and Grand Portage tribal nations. The COVID-19 pandemic was no exception to diminishing those efforts.

Dr. Wirta Kosobuski, along with faculty colleague, Dr. Richard Melvin, have developed two informational resources geared for youth, "COVID-19? Answers for Kids" and "A Kid's Quick Guide to Stopping COVID-19," that detail easy ways to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

"Just like adults, kids also want to understand what's going on around them," Dr. Wirta Kosobuski said. "It’s not just affecting them. It’s affecting their loved ones and their communities. It’s a lot for kids to digest."

Through conversations and brainstorming with other faculty members, the team discovered a need for kid-friendly resources to talk to children about COVID-19. “Rather than being directed by their parents or guardians, these materials can give children more authority,” Dr. Melvin said. “Putting information in the hands of a child empowers them to feel like there’s something they can do.”

To develop the resources, Dr. Wirta Kosobuski enlisted the help of Jordan Rodgers to illustrate the visual concepts with additional support from Dr. Melvin and staff member, Rachel King-Siert, to gather information and updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on COVID-19.

“We tried to think about our own experiences with a classroom full of kids,” Dr. Wirta Kosobuski said. “What are some of those questions we can anticipate?”

In three weeks, the team produced a Q&A guide and classic comic book illustration on how to defeat the new coronavirus. In a rapid response to distance learning, printed copies of resources were sent to students at Nett Lake Elementary, near the Bois Forte Reservation and Oshki Ogimaag Charter School in Grand Portage.

“It seems like a critical need, and we want to make sure that we’re serving communities as they wish to be served,” Dr. Wirta Kosobuski said. “This has been a vital project that’s been very well received, and we’re planning on making more resources for youth.”

The resources are available to download and share. You can access the PDF versions below.
"COVID-19? Answers for Kids"
"A Kid's Quick Guide to Stopping COVID-19"

For more resources on youth wellness and healthy eating, check out these additional activity books.

"Minwanjige Mino bimaadizi - Live well, Eat well:" An Ojibwe / English Activity Book
1st and 2nd Grade