COVID preschool superheroes

Children from Malone’s Early Learning Center Inc. in Carterville viewed the “Preschool Superheroes” video. Then, they created their own superhero masks and capes and their own video.  (Photo provided)

December 21, 2020

Preschool children learn to be superheroes during the pandemic through new SIU/Canadian video

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Safely navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic can be a bit daunting for anyone, especially little children. Thanks to a new video created by a faculty member at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a Canadian colleague, preschoolers, as well as their teachers and parents, are learning in a fun way how to mask up, wash up and be safe, becoming “superheroes” in the battle against the virus.

Preschool Superheroes is now available online at for free viewing by everyone.

Making safety fun

The eight-minute, high-energy clip is the work of Lisabeth DiLalla, a professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine in the SIU School of Medicine and professor of psychology at SIU Carbondale, and Clare Gibson, a filmmaker and owner of Allegorical Alchemy, a filmmaking company specializing in issues related to health and health research in Edmonton, Canada.

They received $1,000 in grant funding in the national #SciCommMake competition hosted by Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society as well as Science Talk. They subsequently made a virtual presentation to the national Sigma Xi organization about the project, which was filmed at Little Lotus Inc., a preschool in Edmonton.

“Teachers are very stressed and overworked, trying to juggle classroom duties, remote learning duties and more these days. Parents are having to take on extra duties as well, and the frustrations are apparent,” DiLalla said. “With this video, we wanted to show them and the children how to stay safe during the pandemic in a fun and funny way.”

The children create superhero capes and masks, practice handwashing, social distancing and other safe and positive behaviors as they interact happily and safely with one another and staff.

Tried, tested and approved

Local preschools were invited to give the video a test run, DiLalla said, and the results were amazing.

“The children enjoyed it, and the teachers and parents found it to be a very helpful tool,” DiLalla said.

Malones Early Learning Center Inc. in Carterville decided to give the video a trial run. Lee Eklund, director, issued an enthusiastic thumbs up.

“Not only were the children super excited about it but so were the parents,” Eklund said. “They were happy to supply capes and masks for the kids to decorate, personalize and wear.”

The preschoolers even donned their individualized superhero attire and created their own short video clip.

Eklund said his staff had already done a good job teaching the children safety protocols, but the fun video with its superhero message really hit home with the children and their parents.

“I think it helped educate some of the parents who were a bit skeptical about why wearing masks and taking the proper safety steps are important,” Eklund said.

DiLalla and Gibson said they’ve heard similar responses from people at other preschools who have viewed the film.

 “The bottom line is that the data we’ve collected showed that teachers, parents and children enjoyed the video and learned from it, finding it easy to follow the lessons,” DiLalla said.

Gibson, who holds a doctorate in health, said parents and preschools in the Edmonton area have been equally as enthusiastic in their responses.

“I am thrilled with the film we created. Feedback from parents watching the film at home with their children suggests that they find it highly enjoyable and educational,” Gibson said. “This project was exciting as it allowed me to collaborate with people that I wouldn’t normally get an opportunity to work with and to employ a very different style of filmmaking to my usual, while still basing my work on underlying scientific theory. We hope to spread the film further so that we can have this positive impact with others.”

Preschool Superheroes

Everyone is now welcome to view “Preschool Superheroes,” a video created by Lisabeth DiLalla and Clare Gibson to teach children pandemic safety protocols in a fun way. (Photo provided)