Family Experts Release Teen-Specific Coronavirus Resource
With summer break upon us, the family and child life specialists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have developed a new resource geared specifically for teenagers to better understand the virus and how to stay healthy this summer. The new teen resource provides accurate, scientific, and illustrative explanations in age-appropriate language about the virus, how it spreads, symptoms, protective measures for both physical and mental health/self-care.
The new teen resource joins a suite of age-appropriate tools for parents and children of all ages from teens, pre-teens and younger children available in multiple languages (currently in English, Spanish, French and Arabic). The suite of tools was designed by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s child and family experts for utilization by parents and caregivers to help children better understand the current COVID-19 pandemic.
St. Jude Together has an entire set of resources for parents, including information developed by the St. Jude experts on “how to talk to your children about coronavirus and COVID-19” to tips and frequently asked questions children may ask about the virus.
General Resources: for general information on the coronavirus and children, St. Jude has developed a general resource page about the pandemic for parents, children, and families to consult, which includes how to talk to children, music therapy, and educational resources.
Young Children: for younger children, St. Jude has developed a suite of tools intended to help educate children about the pandemic itself and the impact it is having on our daily lives. The Learn About the Coronavirus Coloring Book developed for children ages 5-9 (currently being translated into nine additional languages), as well as the Learn About the Coronavirus Activity Book, geared more toward “tweens” ages 10-13 more or less.
Valerie Crabtree, Chief, Psychosocial Services at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
“Making sure our teens maintain social distancing is a challenge, because they aren’t seeing their peers get sick, and when you add the pretty typical experience of teens to feel relatively invincible, their tolerance for risk, their challenges with brain development in terms of recognizing risk in decision making, creates this kind of perfect storm for feeling like ‘This isn’t going to affect me so I can go out and do whatever I want to do.”
Rachel Schmeltzer, Child Life Professional at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
“Even though many teens look like adults, their brains still have lots of developing to do. Using resources that explain topics, such as COVID-19 in a way that is easy for them to understand can make a huge difference in their understanding and behaviors surrounding this pandemic. The teen resource developed by the psychosocial team at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital dives into not only the basics about COVID-19, but also some specifics about how to stay social with friends while social distancing, keeping up with school work and professional goals, and coping through a potentially stressful time.”
Emily VanGilder, Illustrator and Graphic Designer in the St. Jude Child Program
“Our main goal with this project was to give access to teens & young adults in a way that felt most appropriate to them, so we created a digital source that they can visit, peruse and return to again rather than a printed piece. We wanted it to still be interactive, so we created games like bingo that teens could download and share on social media. I created characters that resonated a bit more with an older audience, including earrings and hairstyles that felt a bit more authentic for teens. I utilized bright, colorful illustrations and typography that evokes a sense of action, and allows the kids to choose which pieces they want to further engage with.”
Kristin Canavera, Assistant Faculty Member in the St. Jude Psychology Dept.
“Teens are facing their own unique challenges during these stressful times. COVID is impacting a critical time for their social-emotional development, like missing school, prom and graduation, or just hanging out with friends. Our goal was to provide developmentally appropriate resources and tools for teens on how to cope with these changes and how to stay connected with friends in safe ways.”
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