Episode 7: The Lawrenceville 8-year-old with a podcast and lots of pandemic thoughts

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Courtesy photo. (Photo illustration by Natasha Vicens/PublicSource)

Courtesy photo. (Photo illustration by Natasha Vicens/PublicSource)

What does a kid make of a historic event that is affecting people throughout the world? On this episode, third-grader Felix Wodzak shares what he understands about the effects of the coronavirus, the history of past pandemics and what's getting him through the days stuck at home.

JOURDAN HICKS: Felix Wodzak is 8 years old. He likes Legos, baking with his dad, playing with his little sister, Nimmy, and working on his podcast with his mom. It's called The Blurst of Times.

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CLIP: "Hello and welcome to the Blurst of Times. I'm your host Felix Wodzak and I'm your Host Sophie Wodzak. Welcome to the show.

JOURDAN HICKS: The last episode was about, what else?

CLIP FROM BLURST OF TIMES:

SOPHIE WODZAK: Trying to do our part over here. We're trying to stay inside, avoid crowds and spread the message. That's one of the reasons why we're recording this podcast. Right?

FELIX: To spread the message, not the virus.

SOPHIE: To spread the message. Not the virus. Exactly.

JOURDAN HICKS: Felix says he only thinks about the coronavirus once someone else mentions it. Which is a lot lately. And he's been recording some of his thoughts.

FELIX: Well, I'm feeling pretty good about having some time to just be at home, but it's also, a bit, driving me crazy.

JOURDAN HICKS: What this pandemic looks and feels like from the eyes of a kid right after this break.

FUNDRAISING CLIP: “Hi. I'm Mila Sanina, the executive director of Public Source. In this unprecedented time, in the middle of a pandemic, our reporters have been bringing you the stories from the Pittsburgh region, from talking to local nurses and small business owners to understanding why data on race matters when we look at how COVID-19 is affecting different communities. If you like what we are doing, please consider supporting us. PublicSource is an independent nonprofit newsroom. You can support local journalism and storytelling by going to publicsource.org/donate. Thank you.”

FELIX: I am Felix Wodzak. I live in Lawrenceville. I'm 8 years old and I am in third grade.

None of the days have really stuck out as the worst...yet.

Well, the coronavirus has spread from China to basically all over the world, and many businesses and schools have shut down. My school has shut down and it's annoying. I want to be able to go to school. Some of the events at the school, like a talent show, were canceled because of it. People were crying when they found out. All that hard work down the drain.

We've never had an epidemic like this where we have to just stay inside and sit.

When I wake up, I usually go down to the kitchen, make myself some breakfast, sit there eating it, and then go upstairs and hang out. That's just that for the rest of the day.

SOPHIE: Have you been able to see or talk to any other kids while we've been in isolation?

FELIX: I have been talking to some of my friends on Zoom and one of my friends has a Google doc where we can talk to each other basically just that.

SOPHIE: So what are things that you do right now for fun?

FELIX: To have fun, I usually build with Legos.

SOPHIE: What kind of stuff?

FELIX: Well, I like to build things with a function. I've made a candy dispenser. I made a couple Lego locks.

SOPHIE: So we've been quarantined for more than 30 days. Does one day stick out in your head as in the best of the happiest?

FELIX: There hasn't been really a day that's been the happiest or the best. Everything has been sort of not too good and not too bad.

SOPHIE: Do you ever watch TV coverage of what's happening? Like do you watch Donald Trump on the news?

FELIX: I don't watch anything about the coronavirus on the news. Partly because I don't want to see Trump talking. Also because. . . yeah, that's it.

I play with my sister sometimes upstairs. But it also can sometimes turn into a disaster.

CLIP of Nimmy (sister): "I'll marry you, my sweetie boy."

FELIX: I don't think my sister understands what's going on. We have a basketball court that has since had the hoops taken off and me and my sister have a lot of fun riding around on our scooters in it. But one day we found that the door on the fence was chained shut. It made us both pretty sad.

But other than that we also have a really big cemetery next to our house that we can go walking around in. We bought a picnic once and we made sure not to litter. And we've also just gone around looking at the years of different graves to pass the time.

My mom and I were talking about the plague on our podcast, The Blurst of Times.

SOPHIE: Do you know the plague, Felix?

FELIX: Yes.

SOPHIE: Can you tell us a little bit about that?

FELIX: Also known as Black Death, it was an epidemic all through Europe. And I think like millions of people died. And Shakespeare had to shut down his Globe Theater. And I don't think this is funny, but the people back then had some pretty crazy ideas on how to keep people from getting it. There was this one idea that the plague was spread by bad air so people would get good-smelling things and put them in their pocket like oranges, cloves, flowers and plague doctors would - you most commonly see this certain mask - this bird mask - and they'd fill it with flowers.

SOPHIE: Do you do any kind of schooling as part of your life?

FELIX: Yean sometimes in the morning I do school work. I've been taking science lessons, math lessons and a violin lesson with a couple different people throughout the week.

The coronavirus has affected our family. My dad lost both his jobs and my mom lost one of her jobs, too. And because they work in restaurants, it'll be harder for them to get a job during the coronavirus because you can't cook virtually.

The thing that worries me the most about the coronavirus is people can have it without knowing it and then spread it without knowing it. And if that happens, then things could get worse. And, um, if things can go back to normal. Because businesses will open back up because if some businesses don't open back up, people will stop making money and then things will just get worse and worse.

My advice to other kids is to try to make the most of what you have, because since we're not able to get really everything we need or everything we want right now, it's really good to make the most of what you have already, even if it's not much.

SOPHIE: If can be hard ot stay inside; it’s one thing when it’s kind of cold, rainy gray winter and you think well I just want to be inside anyways.

FELIX: But it's getting sunny out and it's going to be really nice to go outside soon. But actually it's not, because of the coronavirus.

SOPHIE: What are some ways you could try to keep in touch with your friends and your family?

FELIX: Send letters or...

SOPHIE: I bet a lot of people would really enjoy to get letters.

FELIX: I'm just thinking like you're going to touch something and then they're going to touch something. That's, like, a maybe.

This podcast was produced by Andy Kubis and edited by Mila Sanina and Halle Stockton. If you have a story you'd like to share, get in touch with us. You can text a voice memo to 412-432-9669. Or email it to jourdan@publicsource.org.

Also, we'd like to ask for your support. PublicSource is an independent nonprofit newsroom in Pittsburgh. Please support local journalism and storytelling by going to a publicsource.org/donate

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