Philly writing contest features children’s perspectives on COVID-19 | #covid19 | #kids | #childern

Are you on the front lines of the coronavirus? Help us report on the pandemic.

This is how we will defeat COVID-19. World health officials: take note.

It’s a floating orb called the Vaccinator.

“It looks like a Pac-Man,” said Asa Vershbow, 7, of West Philadelphia, who invented this coronavirus killer. “It is a ball that opens on every side and eats up COVID molecules in the air. Inside is a robot that turns the molecules into vaccines, and then takes the vaccines into its cave and tests them on perfect robot DNA copies of humans that were not actually human.”

This is what it looks like:

The Vaccinator is a robotic COVID-19 virus-killing device invented by Asa Vershbow, the 7 year-old author of “Asher’s Indoor Adventure.” (Asa Vershbow)

The Vaccinator — which might be a machine or some kind of sentient being with artificial intelligence, it’s hard to determine — teams up with another coronavirus fighter called Prison, which, according to Asa, is “a cobra alien thing that uses its tongue to suck COVID out of people who have COVID, and goes back to a cave to help the Vaccinator.”

These are the heroes of Asa’s short adventure story, “Asher’s Indoor Adventure,” submitted to a writing contest, My Indoor Adventures, for kids stuck at home during the pandemic.

Asa and Gregory Vershbow
Asa Vershbow, 7, plays with the robot he built while his father, Gregory Vershbow, reads aloud. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Book-a-Day, a community partnership that supplies new books to West Philadelphia elementary schools each month, launched the contest, asking children ages 6 to 10 to write a story, memoir or cartoon about what it’s like to live under a pandemic shutdown.

The winner of the contest is Freja Laurison, 10, a rising fifth-grader at Masterman School, for a cartoon she drew describing the importance of mask-wearing and acts of kindness.

“Ever since the crisis, life has been cold, even empty. So many people are giving up,” she wrote. “Sometimes I feel lost, and yet I feel like flying. Let that feeling go.”

Freja Laurison's COVID-19 comic
Freja Laurison, 10, took home the top prize for her coronavirus-inspired comic. (Freja Laurison)

Freja comes away with the first-place prize, a $125 gift card for a local bookstore, Bindlestiff Books.

Asa’s story won him second place, earning him a $75 gift card for Bidlestiff’s and a selection of picture books.

When his mother, Shira Brisman, first told him about the contest, “he immediately started orally recounting this story he wanted to tell.”

“I grabbed a notebook and just started writing furiously,” she said. “He was already producing the story. I was transcribing what he was saying.”


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