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UM experts contribute to children’s science magazine about COVID-19

May 27, 2020 — 

Last week, La Liberté published its first children’s science magazine La Liberté Sciences Mag Junior – No Mercy for the Coronas!, with contributions from University of Manitoba faculty. The free illustrated magazine is a fun, creative tool to help kids and their families understand the science behind COVID-19 and ease anxieties about the virus.

La Liberté, Manitoba’s French language newspaper, published the e-magazine in both French and English, available at https://lalibertesciencesmagjunior.ca, for use in homes and as a resource in classrooms. The goal is to distribute the free magazine as widely as possible so children and their families can have a scientifically reliable resource during this global health crisis.

“We felt there was too much information and yet not always accessible to younger audiences,” said Sophie Gaulin, director and editor-in-chief of La Liberté, “As children have to be part of the fight against COVID 19, we wanted to empower them with scientific facts and knowledge.”

For this project, Gaulin invited Dr. Jean-Eric Ghia, associate professor of immunology & internal medicine in the Max Rady College of Medicine, to co-develop and oversee the scientific content of the magazine. Ghia said he met with Gaulin earlier in the year to discuss the opportunity of working on a scientific magazine, but COVID-19 accelerated the process.

“I just said, ‘Yes, of course. I have a story I’m telling every year to MED1 students during my first lecture; maybe we can work from that.’ I think that this type of initiative can be reassuring and lessen fear and anxiety in an accessible way,” said Ghia.

“I am delighted to see the research undertaken by UM faculty highlighted in this publication for children,” said Digvir Jayas, Vice-President (Research and International) and Distinguished Professor at UM. “Our faculty are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, from population health to clinical trials to developing a vaccine to working with Indigenous communities to document the impacts.”

Other scientific experts from the University of Manitoba, St. Boniface Hospital and its Albrechtsen Research Centre and the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba contributed to this project. The Albrechtsen Research Centre’s Youth BIOlab Jeunesse and its health literacy educators, who specialize in communicating scientific content to children and teens, helped develop the content.

With the evolution of new technologies, we have more and more access to information. Very often, it is difficult for everyone to distinguish between what is true and false. The COVID-19 crisis has made things even more complicated because, very often, the questions we have are still unanswered. But having experts participating in this project gives it credibility,” said Ghia.

No Mercy for the Coronas was delivered free of charge to subscribers of the Winnipeg Free Press and La Liberté on May 21, 2020. It will be distributed internationally free of charge via the World Association of Newspapers.

La Liberté Sciences Mag Junior – No Mercy for the Coronas! is available to read and download at: https://lalibertesciencesmagjunior.ca

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