NW Disability Support fights COVID-19 with a comic book

“Pow! Kick! Bang!” starts the comic Fighting COVID. The words, drafted in bright colors, are shouted by a young person fighting the image we’ve seen so much the past year – an illustration of the coronavirus.  

When the Social Justice Youth decided that there was a need for accessible materials to show how to stay safe from COVID-19, they worked with a board member from NW Disability Support (NWDS), Mike Rosen, to develop the idea. He pulled in his friend Shannon Wheeler, creator of Too Much Coffee Man, to create a comic through a collaborative effort.  

“The full editions of the comic book were transcreated with our youth with and without disabilities and also our Latinx community from various regions and backgrounds,” said Angela Frome, Director of Operations & Programs for NW Down Syndrome Association (NWDSA) and ABI Community. “This way we were not just taking an English version and translating, but rather digging into the needs and vision of the community and how they want to have information presented.” 

The goal was to address the need of having appropriate materials created for children of all ages and adults that can be used by educators, professionals and parents in their practice. Besides educating about COVID-19, the comic can be used as a literacy tool that can turn reluctant readers into ravenous ones, give struggling readers confidence, expand vocabulary and can be a valuable accompaniment for other learning disciplines. 

The result was Fighting COVID, a comic book that is both imaginative and compelling while delivering preventive and educational information about COVID-19. The comic is the story of a superhero who goes on a journey to fight COVID-19 and learns more about COVID-19 along the way.  

One lesson: You can still talk, joke, sing and dance with 6 feet of physical distance. And even though COVID-19 can be scary, you can “be a hero, stay safe” and still have fun.  

The final page which shows the superheroes flying off to battle says it all, “Now we’re fighting COVID! Together!”  

Plans are underway to release a second comic on vaccination, Beating COVID, scheduled to come out in late April or early May.  

You can download a free Fighting COVID handwashing graphic in English and Spanish from NWDS. Fighting COVID is available in English and Spanish, and so far, has been distributed to over 48,000 people. To order the comic for your organization, email afrome@nwdsa.org.  

NWDS promotes advocacy and education for an inclusive community through their programs, Northwest Down Syndrome Association and the ABI Community.  

Learn more about OHA’s statewide program working with community-based organizations.  

Comic book and photos from a Fighting COVID photo shoot held with Jeff Day Photography.

This article first appeared in the March 29, 2021 issue of Oregon Coronavirus Update.