It is not often that at age 11, you can already boast about winning a prestigious digital award because of your innovative robot graphics. However, Jan Louwrens, a grade five learner at Curro Online, Curro Holdings’ first fully online school, seems to take this in his stride. His comic strip on a Coronavirus awareness campaign – in collaboration with digital agricultural news website Food For Mzansi – won the category for Best Special Project for COVID-19 at the recent African Digital Media Awards.
The project Jan Louwrens worked on is called Thandi and Captain Stay Safe, which included a podcast, regular news updates and a cartoon series called Battle of COVID-19. Louwrens, hailing from Paarl in the Western Cape, was responsible for the cartoon artwork. The award sees Louwrens and the team now going through to the World Digital Media Awards finals, where their project will compete against the winners from other continents.
Louwrens’ comic series, Battle of COVID-19, features the heroic robot Captain Stay Safe, which does a terrific job of helping children face their fears around returning to school after lockdown. The comic provides valuable tips for kids on how to protect themselves against the virus while at school. Battle of COVID-19 has been translated into all 11 official South African languages and was even featured on a German television show for kids.
When Food For Mzansi approached Louwrens to work on their Coronavirus campaign, he was already busy creating comic strips for his robots, making it an easy project to start collaborating on.
Jan Louwrens has been drawing robots since he could put pencil to paper. His robots – and their unique backstories – have even led to the creation of his own growing online business, Baggo Stonetrip, which sells t-shirts and hoodies to kids and adults featuring prints of Louwrens’ robotic creations.
Commenting on the team’s achievement at the African Digital Media Awards, Louwrens says, “When they announced the winners, I first thought that it was somebody else who won, but then I heard the cheering and realised it was us!” He says the creation of the Captain Stay Safe robot was a bit tricky. “I had to come up with a unique robot character that suits a COVID-19 theme. But once I had the idea pinned down, the rest was easy,” he notes.
This is not the first time Louwrens and his robot designs assisted in the fight against the virus. One of his other recent creations made it to the label of ViroGOLDSchool, a hand sanitiser range used in schools around the country. The ViroGOLD-Bot is a hypochlorous acid (HOCI) processing and dispensing machine, with HOCI used to disinfect surfaces and protect against COVID-19.
Jay Paul, Business Manager for Curro Online, praised Louwrens for his achievements. “Louwrens and his terrific robotic creations show how creativity and passion can lead to amazing things. We believe that his team’s success at the African Digital Media Awards will be an inspiration to all our learners, and we wish them the best of luck for the upcoming World Digital Media Awards,” he states.
Jan Louwrens’ award-winning comic strip Battle of COVID-19 is available for download as a PDF here.