St. Jude releases coloring book to help explain coronavirus to children
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St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has published a coloring book in hopes of better explaining the coronavirus pandemic to its patients, and children in general.

"We know sometimes that medical things like diagnoses are difficult to understand because they're under the surface or they're very small and not something we can see," Rachel Schmelzer, child life specialist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, told USA Today. "So coming up with a visual for it gives children a reference. It makes the information a little bit more digestible."

The hospital’s psychologists and child life specialists often develop learning aids for children such as comic books and brochures, but a coloring book is relatively unprecedented, according to the newspaper, with Schmelzer noting it marks the first one the hospital has produced in-house.

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The coloring book provides simple information about strategies against the virus such as washing one’s hands, as well as etymological information about it such as its name deriving from its resemblance to a crown under a microscope.

Emily VanGilder, 27, a graphic designer in the St. Jude biomedical communications department who served as the artist and designer, said coming up with the coloring book’s anthropomorphic personification of the virus was a challenge.

"I didn't want to make him too scary ... I tried to go for a little more mischievous look, rather than make him a villain,” she told USA Today.

The initial print run of the coloring book was 750 copies in English, Spanish and Arabic, which were distributed on the hospital campus and living facilities for patients at Target House and Ronald McDonald House. The hospital has also made it available for download online.

"I think what we're finding in the community is COVID-19 is making everyone anxious, whether they're a St. Jude parent or patient or the person who works at the grocery store," Valerie Crabtree, chief of psychosocial services at St. Jude, told the newspaper.

“I think bringing creativity into any type of situation can help relax and turn something that could potentially be scary into a learning experience,” VanGilder added.