Mask Awareness for Children through Visual Storytelling
Wearing a mask is a crucial measure to suppress transmission of the
COVID-19 virus. As we all adjust to this new normal, we have missed out on building awareness among children.
As schools re-open in India, children are expected to wear a mask throughout the day. There is minimum awareness directed specifically for children about the pandemic, yet we expect them to adjust to the new normal. Hence the main concern is building awareness among children so that their school life during the pandemic is fun yet safe.
As a visual thinker and designer, I wanted to use my expertise and find a solution through storytelling and visuals. With the help of my friends (Victoria and Rachana), we designed the Super Mask Project.
We gathered 10 to 15 children between the ages of 5 –10 from (outskirts of Bangalore, India), belonging to low-income families with no formal education.
We observed that none of the children were wearing masks. On enquiring further, their reasons were that it was uncomfortable and itchy or that they were playing and did not wear it during those times. It was clear that the habit of wearing a mask at all times had not been inculcated in the children.
Before we started the session, we listened to know more about their knowledge of COVID-19 and the usage of masks. We learnt that they had heard about the virus through television ads, which are played in between their daily Cartoon shows.
As this method of awareness proved to not be effective or impactful on children, we decided to take a route that was not only interesting for the children but also included their active participation.
We told a Visual story of an invisible supervillain, ‘COVID,’ who is trying to take over the world by weakening humans and making them sick. This fantastic Super Masks group with amazing superpowers is trying to protect the human race and defend everyone against the COVID virus!
The story not only informed the children of the dangers of the virus and the preventive measures to be taken but was also presented as a superhero narrative that is familiar and fun for children.
We then provided each child with paper and crayons for them to create their own Super Masks. Just like the story, each mask would have a different superpower that will combat the villain — ‘COVID’
We observed that the activity not only allowed the children to use their imagination to create Supermasks but was also a fun group activity with their friends as they shared their crayons and erasers.
After 45 minutes, each child was encouraged to present their ideas and drawings of the SuperMasks with everyone in the class.
Children proudly displayed their unique Super Mask illustrations.
Here are some of the sketches they created:
Star Mask: “We should follow Social Distancing because even stars are following social distancing in the sky”
Jesus Mask: “Like Jesus protects everyone, my masks also protect me from Covid”
Hulk Mask: “Hulk is the strongest avenger ”
Shin Chan Mask: “I liked Shin Chan”
Dora Mask: “I watch Dora every day”
Yesu Mask: “All the covid virus will run away because of the Jesus power”
Krrish Mask: “Krissh is my favorite”
Pikachu Mask: My Pikachu mask will use a thunderbolt power attack to kill the Covid virus.
Robin Mask: “My Robin Mask invisible to COVID Virus, he can always sneak in and attack”
Police Mask: My mask will use his machine guns to kill the virus.
We were also motivated by their creativity. We ended the activity by gifting them masks and wearing it together for a group picture.
As the children nor their families have access to technology like smartphones, we were unable to check if they had adapted to wearing masks every day after the activity.
Yet, after a month of the Super mask project, we met one of the children wearing the same mask we had provided. She told us the mask had become part of her mini wardrobe and informed us that a few of her friends have also been wearing masks regularly.
After sharing our experience with colleagues and friends, there was a growing interest in volunteering and conducting the same session.