Nursing students create children’s COVID-19 activity book

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Left to right: Elaine Pham and Tina Tran

Gator Elaine Pham and SJSU peers author book to teach kids about virus, pandemic

Learning about COVID-19 can be a double-edged sword. It’s good to stay informed, but it can also make people scared and anxious. This can be especially true for children. One San Francisco State University student and her peers had an idea to help with that.

Nursing major Elaine Pham — working with San Jose State University nursing students Tina Tran, Elaine Fu, Liz Nguyen and Vivian Doan — created the “COVID-19 Activity Playbook,” a book designed to help children understand the pandemic in an easy and non-frightening way. Readers also learn ways to prevent catching the virus, like washing their hands. “We added fun images and activities like crossword puzzles and coloring diagrams that will keep kids engaged,” Pham said. “That way they’re getting this information but also retaining it.”

The students created the book with the goal of improving health equity. Copies were primarily distributed in school clinics and other health facilities in one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19: the historically underserved east side of San Jose where Pham grew up.

“This partly stemmed from the idea that not everybody has access to health resources, but if it was delivered to schools, children would have the resources and share back with their family,” said Pham, a junior. “I think a lot of people assume that everybody has access to the internet, but for many families, that’s not possible.”

The five women created the book as interns for Community Health Partnership (CHP), a nonprofit that advocates for affordable and accessible health services for diverse and multicultural communities. CHP funded the project, printed about 2,800 copies and distributed them across East San Jose, where the nonprofit is located.

In terms of future plans, CHP and the students hope to expand distribution beyond this community. They also plan to translate the book in different languages, such as Vietnamese and Spanish, which are widely used in this area of San Jose. A sequel focused on COVID-19 vaccine information is also underway.

Through her health promotion classes at San Francisco State, Pham learned that nursing goes beyond providing clinical care. Her instructors stressed the importance of advocating for patients and how nurses are at the frontlines of providing health education. This lesson gave Pham an important perspective while creating the book, she says.

“My job does not only entail hands-on clinical skills. It’s also getting to know your patient and helping them in any way that you can,” she said. “It’s about providing information that will help them and prevent them from getting sick.”

Pham says this perspective was not only instrumental in creating the book but will be crucial throughout her career.

“It doesn’t matter where I end up working as a nurse; one of my main priorities will always be to educate my patients no matter what environment I’m in,” she said. “It’s not just helping them heal but also trying to teach them ways to help protect themselves.”

Story by Kent Bravo