For most children, the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic proved frustrating, overwhelming and stressful. Not so for 12-year-old Gus Howard, from Geelong in Australia, who used the worldwide crisis to channel his inner passion: writing.
The budding musician and writer decided to create his own magazine, following what started as an Instagram page filled with photos of his hometown, called Crap Snaps. The page documented the comings and goings of Geelong, a bayside city southwest of Melbourne, Australia, population around 250,000.
From within isolation and home-schooling, entrepreneurial Gus decided to turn the Instagram page into a business and enlisted the help of his family members to produce physical copies of magazine that he distributed by mail and electronically.
Two editions have been released to date, with another expected in the next two months.
“Having something to do each day, instead of sitting around and allowing myself to become bored, I decided to explore the stories of people,” said Gus, who created the business as Chief Executive Officer and Editor In Chief.
“One day, I started writing an article on my computer to see if I could do it. That article never made it into an edition, but it showed me that I could do it and so I started the magazine.”
When asked about the inspiration behind the name "Crap Snaps," Gus said it represented things that you wouldn’t typically see.
“Holy crap moments,” Morning Honey asked.
Gus responded, citing an example in the debut issue that featured a giant dinosaur being carried on the back of a truck through the streets of his hometown.
“That was one of the first stories I wrote,” he said.
For his parents and grandparents, it was as much about being creative to pass the time, as it was taking care of one another and supporting each other.
His sister, Anouk, 9, was his sidekick as the magazine’s Chief Photographer.
It also afforded the sixth grader a chance to talk to his classmates, similarly on lockdown and missing playtime in the schoolyard on a daily basis, about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gus published an article in the second edition, detailing how they were coping during their government’s public health response, which was widely criticized as oppressive and overbearing.
Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria (an equivalent of a Governor in America), the state home to Gus, ignored a directive from the country’s highest leader, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, when he pushed ahead with school closures across the state, causing much uproar.
While Andrews defied the Prime Minister, self-starter student Gus used the disappointment of not going to school to create routine and structure around his day.
“I would set aside about an hour each day to create it,” he said.
“In issue two, I interviewed some of my schoolmates about homeschooling to understand the good and the bad, and what effect it had them. It was interesting to hear what my friends said.”
Proving that creating a magazine is not his only strength, Gus also appeared on Australian national television during lockdown to perform his original song and viral hit, titled "Coronavirus Blues."
“I’ve been into music for as long as I can remember,” Gus told the Seven Network’s Morning Show.
He said, “It kind of all started when I was three. My family went on a very musical-related holiday. We went to Kurt Cobain’s hometown, and I was lucky enough to see Queens of the Stone Age live underneath the sunset in Texas.
“A really big inspiration for me would be Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters. He is my biggest inspiration and he has been for over a long time.”
So, what’s next for this music maestro come junior publishing magnate?
“I love poetry,” he said. “It also folds into my songwriting. I like writing about things that mean something to me, rather than being told what to write about.
“I learned a lot about how stressful it is to write, also. But I love it. It’s cool and fun to come up with ideas and execute on them.”
Like millions worldwide, Gus is not alone in finding different tools to cope with the stress of the outbreak.
The World Health Organization have released the following tips (below) for parents and carers to help support their children who may be feeling stressed due to the pandemic.