A special needs classroom assistant from Lurgan who wrote and illustrated a children’s book ‘The Year the World Got Sick’ during lockdown to help explain Covid-19 for primary school pupils has today received Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s daily Points of Light award.
Ryan Wilson, who works at Carrick Primary School, originally intended the book to help his own class of 12 autistic pupils, recording a video reading the story of ‘Healthy Harry’ and ‘Sneezy Suzie’ that was shared on his school’s social media channels.
Ryan’s video soon caught the attention of parents in schools across Northern Ireland and received endorsement from the Northern Ireland Executive.
Ryan has now self-published the book through Amazon, with each book sold covering the costs of printing and shipping, and has developed further learning material for use in the classroom.
He is also writing a follow-up book which will aim to explain issues such as wearing face masks, queuing at shops, hand sanitising, and the new school day in which children have to stay within their class bubble.
In a personal letter to Ryan, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Thank you for bringing ‘The Year The World Got Sick’ to school children across Northern Ireland to help them understand Coronavirus.
“With ‘Healthy Harry’ and ‘Sneezy Suzy’ and even a special guest appearance by Captain Sir Tom Moore, you have explained the pandemic in a reassuring way to thousands of children. I am sure the pupils of Carrick Primary School have enjoyed story time with their resident author!”
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s announcement, Ryan said: “When I first set out to write, ‘The Year the World Got Sick’, I had a classroom of twelve children in Carrick Primary School, Lurgan in mind.
“Working with children allows me to see the world through their eyes and as such, recognise just how difficult the Coronavirus pandemic has been for them.
“It feels surreal to see just how far the book has went and how impactful it has been in these very uncertain and daunting times for children across the UK and Northern Ireland.
“I am beyond honoured to receive the UK Points of Light award and would like to thank the Prime Minister for his recognition of my storybook for children about Coronavirus. The book has taken me on an amazing journey and I am forever thankful for all the love and support that the book has and continues to receive.”
The Prime Minister’s UK daily Points of Light award was first launched in April 2014 to recognise outstanding individuals making a difference where they live.
Ryan is the 1509th person to be recognised. As the UK unites to fight the spread of coronavirus, the award is focusing exclusively on people serving their community through the pandemic.