Michia-Marie Ward is 13 years old, lives on the North Side, goes to Golda Meir School and is planning on becoming a babysitter soon.
Oh, and she’s a contributing author to “Kids Journal Through COVID-19: United Kids Speak.”
The book features writings from kids across the country about their experience living through the coronavirus era.
The book was released in October by Noahs Ark Publishing. Laval Belle, author and owner of Noahs Ark Publishing in Los Angeles, said the goal was to give kids a platform to talk about their experiences. He said he felt they’ve been overlooked in discussions about the pandemic.
“Coronavirus has taken not only a physical toll on me personally, but a mental one as well,” Michia-Marie writes. “Welcome to a child’s mind through a pandemic.”
Michia-Marie writes about how the pandemic had affected her personally: adjusting to online school, boredom with spending more time at home and dealing with stress. She wrote that she began practicing yoga and breathing exercises to manage her stress. She’s also picked up hobbies like longboarding and biking.
Michia-Marie also wrote about her father, Michael, who is a respiratory therapist at Ascension St. Joseph hospital who serves on the front lines of the pandemic. Michael’s been working through the “highs and lows” of the pandemic while also taking care of his children: Michia-Marie and a 5-year-old son.
Michael said he can sense the things his children are missing: For Michia-Marie, it’s a chance to experience the eighth grade in person.
She notes in the book that she sometimes finds it difficult to express her emotions but enjoys writing poetry. Michia-Marie said having the opportunity to write was “freeing.”
“Just kind of pouring those thoughts out onto paper felt really, really good,” she said.
The book has contributing authors from all 50 U.S. states, Belle said.
Belle said if there was any commonality between the contributing authors, it’s that they’re afraid of COVID-19, and they want it to be over.
“The youth look like our country,” Belle said.
Voices from every creed and color are represented, including passages from children on Native American reservations. The book opens with a passage from Gianna Floyd, daughter of George Floyd.
Michia-Marie is the sole representative from Wisconsin.
“I didn’t really realize how big of a thing that is … it kind of just dawned on me maybe like a month or so ago,” she said. “But I’m really, really proud to be the kid who was chosen from Wisconsin.”
Michia-Marie said she was glad to represent Wisconsin, and Milwaukee specifically. She wanted to debunk misconceptions about the state.
“I feel like a lot of people have this stereotype that Wisconsin is just like a whole bunch of farmland, and that we just make cheese and stuff like that,” she said. “But we have cities. Really nice, beautiful cities.”
Michael Ward has mobilized to get people to read the book. He’s been telling family, promoting it on his Instagram account and has discussed distributing copies at churches.
“It’s a really proud moment for me to see her make this achievement,” Michael said.
Belle said he wanted to provide a platform for kids in what may be likely the first major event in many of their lives.
“I believe this will be a document of history,” Belle said.
The book is available in English and Spanish and audiobook form. Belle said he plans to visit the state some time in March or April for a book signing with Michia-Marie, if the virus lets up.
Meanwhile, Michia-Marie continues to make the most of the pandemic by finding new ways to interact with family and relatives.
She said she has connected more with her grandparents, texting them to see if they need groceries and to ask if they’re doing OK.
“I think that at the end of this, we will all come out stronger on the other side because we have learned how to support and care for each other,” Michia-Marie wrote.
How to get the book