Thursday, August 20, 2020

By Amanda Alaniz

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – UTRGV School of Medicine has collaborated with Stanford Medicine and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to release a video adaptation of the children’s book, “My Hero is You.”  

The purpose of the video and book is to help educate children around the world about COVID-19.  

The book, released in early 2020, was created by mental health and psychosocial support experts from the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the highest-level humanitarian coordination forum of the United Nations. It has been translated into more than 125 languages and is available to download from the IASC’s website.  

The animated short film was created by a team of faculty from the UTRGV School of Medicine, Stanford Medicine and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, led by Stanford Medicine’s Maya Adam. Input and oversight was provided by the IASC Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Reference Group, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (WHO).  

The film aims to convey messages of hope, resilience, solidarity and empowerment to children and their caregivers.   

The goal of collaborating partners was to create something to share with children around the world, which is why there is no text in the video. The animation team they hired included Chaz Bottoms, Matt Torode and Monica A. Young. It took about three months to complete the film.

Dr. Marsha Griffin
UTRGV School of Medicine’s Dr. Marsha Griffin, professor in the Department of Pediatrics and director of the Division of Child and Family Health and Humanitarian Care Respite Clinic Medical, was a content advisor for the animated short film. (UTRGV Photo by Jennifer Galindo)

UTRGV School of Medicine’s Dr. Marsha Griffin, professor in the Department of Pediatrics and director of the Division of Child and Family Health and Humanitarian Care Respite Clinic Medical, was a content advisor for the animated video, focusing on the best ways to get a child’s attention.  

“My job was to look from a child’s eyes. And, whatever age group we were targeting, what would be some things that are important based on their developmental stage,” she said. “Most importantly, it had to be fun.” 

Griffin hopes the video goes viral and reaches families across the world to help them understand during this time of uncertainty. Children are just as likely to feel tired and depressed because they can’t be around their friends, she said, and the story video will help them understand and, hopefully, empower them.  

“I think it is important that we give the world’s children the power to recreate the world, to reimagine the world. We need them in this moment. We need them now,” she said. “We’re asking them to come along; we’re not asking them to stand aside. And we’ll solve the world’s problems together. We need them.” 

The collaborating efforts help the UTRGV School of Medicine fulfill their mission of helping better the lives of people in the community and beyond, Griffin said.  

“This is putting us with some very big movers in the world – the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Stanford, Harvard School of Public Health. To be creating things at that level and partnering is, I think, very important for UTRGV,” she said. “But for the children, and that’s my main interest, it’s also fun.” 

Griffin also collaborated with video assistance on “The Great Race: A COVID-19 Story,” a short video available to watch on Stanford Medicine’s YouTube channel.    

“My Hero is You” was released Thursday, Aug. 20, and can be viewed here

Visit the IASC’s website to download the book.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.