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Children’s book created by SUNY New Paltz gets Ukrainian translation, distributed to shelters for displaced people

Ukrainian children at a shelter for displaced people read “An Unusual Situation,” a book created at SUNY New Paltz for kids coping with difficult events

An illustrated children’s book originally developed at SUNY New Paltz during the COVID-19 pandemic has been translated into Ukrainian and distributed to shelters for displaced people in the region, to support young kids coping with tragic hardships of war.

The book, “An Unusual Situation,” was developed by the Institute for Disaster Mental Health (IDMH) and the School of Fine & Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz in early 2021. It follows Milo, a young bird experiencing an unnamed event that leaves him feeling helpless, confused, and angry.

While the plot initially resonated with children’s experiences during the pandemic, it was written to be open-ended. It offers lessons that apply to nearly any scenario in which a child and their parents are in distress, brought to life with help from illustrators and designers from New Paltz’s arts programs.

“The book is designed intentionally so that children can project a range of situations they may be experiencing onto Milo and learn vicariously through how he reacts and copes,” said IDMH Director Amy Nitza. “The unexpectedly long duration of the war in Ukraine means children need to develop and maintain a set of coping resources and a network of support. We are heartened that our colleagues in Ukraine have been able to use the book as a tool with children for this purpose.”

That approach is in line with the IDMH mission to address diverse disaster mental health demands at the regional, state, national and global levels, and provide timely access to needed mental health resources.

An Unusual Situation is available now as a free PDF download in English, Spanish, French, Russian or Ukrainian

“An Unusual Situation” is one such resource: a useful and accessible tool for supporting children and families caught up in traumatic events. In addition to its deployment in Ukraine, it has also been distributed through several agencies that work directly with children, including UNICEF USA, the Puerto Rico Department of Education, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico, and Girl Scouts of America, as well as disaster response and recovery agencies like the American Red Cross.

Visit the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at SUNY New Paltz and the School of Fine & Performing Arts online to learn more about their work and their programs for students and community members.