As Loukia Zigoumis’ 4-year-old niece peppered her with questions about the coronavirus, the Ottawa communications advisor and lifestyle blogger decided that this would be the perfect time to pursue her long held dream of publishing a children’s book.
Since releasing “Together, Apart: Life during the Coronavirus” at the end of April, a 28-page illustrated depiction of the COVID-19 pandemic from a child’s perspective, she’s been thrilled to witness the comfort it can bring to both kids and their parents alike, while simultaneously raising funds for two Canadian children’s charitable organizations: The CHEO Foundation and Kids Help Phone.
Offering a glimpse of hope while reinforcing COVID-19 preventative measures like hand washing and social distancing, Zigoumis says, “The book is to help them understand that the current temporary reality is something we’re all facing... and [it] shows them the good that can come from it, like more time with family, getting outside for bike rides and playing board games.”
With colourful images like that of a scientist looking through a magnifying glass to observe the coronavirus, Zigoumis explains the collaboration between herself and the book’s artist, who also happens to be her mother, Katerina Mertikas.
“She gets creative, especially when things happen in the news. She tends to take out her feelings through art and I do the writing. So we decided this is the perfect time to pair up.”
A moment that will certainly go down in the history books has prompted many parents and grandparents to purchase “Together, Apart” as a keepsake for their children and grandchildren in an effort to cement in their memories what we’ve gone through, says Zigoumis. The book is also popular in educational settings and Zigoumis says that some teachers are even using it as a template to encourage their students to write creatively and work through their feelings on paper.
“It’s been a great resource for parents and teachers,” she exclaims.
With close to 1,000 sales, proceeds are being donated to organizations close to Zigoumis’ heart.
“My son was patient in CHEO when he was much younger for a couple of weeks and they took such good care of him. So [I take] any chance I get to support and donate to CHEO,” she explains. Zigoumis also thought it was important to highlight Kids Help Phone, “For the children who may be in home situations where they don’t have a loving environment or are not receiving support at school or from their friends. There's always somebody on the phone or via text or email [to help].”
As a mother of two boys herself, Zigoumis thinks that the pandemic is especially hard for kids.
“They miss their routine and their classroom structure and seeing their friends. We’re letting them go outside for bike rides and seeing people while physical distancing but it’s not the same as being in class. So I feel for the kids that have been missing out on so much.”
A message of hope and a feeling of solidarity is what Zigoumis and Mertikas are hoping that children take away from this story.
“It makes them realize that ‘it’s not just me’. And it’s a good reminder that there is still a lot of good to come from this and that we’re all learning to adapt.”
For more information on the book and where you can get a copy, visit the Facebook page.