AAPS: Brothers create website to help kids keep up with news about COVID-19

By Jo Mathis/AAPS News Editor

On the second day of the Ann Arbor Public Schools closure, the  Veerabhadran family was sitting at the table, soberly discussing news about the coronavirus, and considering what the immediate future would hold.

Upali Nanda says she and her husband were trying to find innovative ways to keep their two sons busy.

“We were brainstorming on how to give them a project that’s creative but also helps them learn,” she recalls.

Together, the four had an idea: Aarith Veerabhadran,  a Tappan Middle School seventh grader, and his brother, Aayush, a fifth grader at Burns Park, would create a website so that they and their friends could share information about Covid-19 that would be relatable to others their age.

Using Google Sites, Aarith built the website and quickly found friends to contribute.

“There’s not a lot of information from a kid’s perspective,” he said.

So now on their KVC (kidsvscorona) Community Page, they and 10 fellow AAPS students have posted information about the virus, using language their peers will understand.

“Through this website, we hope to stay aware, share awareness, stay connected, and spread a positive vibe,” the boys write on their site, which welcomes contributions from other students.

“We actually don’t have any skills in making a website—the boys do,” said Nanda, Director of Research at HKS Architects and an associate professor of practice at the University of Michigan “It was a good use of their skills, plus we thought it was a nice way for them to be aware of and get some agency in what’s happening right now instead of feeling like it’s happening to them.”

Their father, Veerabhadran Balandandayuthani, said his sons immediately brightened at the notion of creating the site.

“Something in them lit up,” said Balandandayuthani, Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, who is now working from home, where he says he’s roping in his boys to do some data modeling for him as well.

Under the heading “Why Should We Care”, the brothers take turns answering that important question:

The family says they’re coping well at home, and looking for the silver linings that include being able to spend more time together.

“What’s being asked of us is very simple, and we’re in jobs that we can do it,” says Nanda.  “The boys have done an amazing job at staying connected (virtually) with their friends, so we hear voices in the house all the time. It’s not just the four of us. Even if it’s Minecraft or Zoom, just hearing other voices takes down the anxiety a little bit.”