A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jefferson County elementary student’s book provides child’s perspective on dealing with pandemic

By Jacob Perkins
Kentucky Teacher

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Prisha Hedau had no plans of writing a book.

The Lowe Elementary (Jefferson County) student was like many Kentuckians, tuning in to Gov. Andy Beshear’s daily press conferences to learn more about the ever-evolving world she was living in. The governor’s messages inspired Prisha to tell her own story.

As an only child, it was hard for her to stay occupied during the pandemic with two parents who work full-time jobs, said Rachana, Prisha’s mother. To keep herself busy, each day Prisha would take a notecard and write down details about her experience during the pandemic.

Prisha Hedau, a student at Lowe Elementary (Jefferson County), writes her daily activities on notecards. Prisha was inspired to tell her own story after tuning in to Gov. Andy Beshear’s daily COVID-19 press conferences. (Submitted from Kentucky Teacher)

“She has always been a writer,” Rachana said. “She would always write her experiences for herself. This time was different and I think Gov. Beshear had a very big impact on her.”

While working from home, Rachana said she randomly would find Prisha’s notecards in her desk. After reading a few of them, she pitched the idea to Prisha of structuring the notecards into essays.

“When we started seeing what she was putting into the essays, I knew it had potential,” Rachana said.

Prisha’s essays began to form into chapters, which eventually led to her book, “PANDEMIC 2020: A 9 Year Old’s Perspective.”

“I just wrote what was in my heart and my emotions and my feelings,” she said. “At the beginning, I didn’t really notice that a child’s perspective was so critical. But it’s very important that this message gets sent. It’s very critical to look at everyone’s point of view, but I feel like a child’s perspective is also needed.”

In her book, Prisha covers a number of topics related to the experience of students during the COVID-19 pandemic, including tips on instilling healthy habits and how to navigate virtual learning.

Prisha recalls initially being surprised by the amount of schoolwork that could be completed through non-traditional instruction and credits her teachers for encouraging her along the way.

Prisha Hedau, right, smiles with her parents Raj, left, and Rachana, center. While working from home, Rachana said she randomly would find Prisha’s notecards in her desk. After reading a few of them, she pitched the idea to Prisha of structuring the notecards into essays, which eventually led to a book. (Submitted photo from Kentucky Teacher)

“It was very different,” she said. “You can do homework, you can do assignments, you can do so much school stuff virtually. I’m very thankful to all my teachers. They’ve played such a big part and have helped so much.”

Prisha said she can’t rule out a sequel to her book and already has a title ready just in case, “PANDEMIC 2021: A 10 Year Old’s Perspective.” Though she currently plans on pursuing a career in technology, she said she will always make time for writing.

“Maybe I’ll be an engineer,” she said. “I’ve been doing coding over the pandemic. I’m sure I’ll do something near that, but I’m always going to do writing.”

Proceeds received from Prisha’s book will go toward her education fund, as well as to those in her community who have been affected by COVID-19.

“The biggest proportion will be going to people in need,” she said. “Every purchase of my book helps someone in need.”

While Prisha’s parents are immensely proud of her accomplishments, they said they could not have envisioned how successful the book has turned out to be.

“Quite frankly, as the parents, we didn’t see that this was going to be this big,” Rachana said. “We did not see that the people were going to love it so much and that she would get this much support from the community and the media. But we are not surprised, she is gifted. We are not at all surprised with her achievements.”

This story first appeared in Kentucky Teacher, a publication of the Kentucky Department of Education.

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