Boy’s innovation that sticks out

Friday March 27, 2020 Written by Published in Local
Manny Okotai with Corona Sticks, aimed at helping remind everyone the importance of social distancing. 20032601 Manny Okotai with Corona Sticks, aimed at helping remind everyone the importance of social distancing. 20032601

Desperate times call for innovation.

Amidst the coronavirus crisis, Manny Okotai, 10, has come up with a brilliant invention to help people practise social distancing correctly.

 

With the help of his grandfather and local businessman Temu Okotai, Manny has invented a special Corona Stick.

He hopes the two-metre-long stick made from hibiscus plant will “remind everyone the importance of social distancing, give a good idea of how far we should be from each other and help stand or walk if you are tired or lazy”.

Manny was at the Punanga Nui market yesterday selling the sticks for $2 each.

At around midday, he had sold about 10 from the 34 he brought.

“A lady came this morning and said it was a great idea. I’m happy people see this as a way to raise awareness of social distancing. At the same, it also helps me learn more about social distancing,” the Year 5 student from Papaaroa School said.

Grandfather Temu Okotai said the idea came about when he was teaching his grandchildren the importance of social distancing during the Covid-19 crisis.

“We were talking about the importance of maintaining distance between each other and they were like ‘oh some don’t even do that no matter how many times you tell them, they have no idea what social distancing means’,” Temu said.

That’s when they thought of using a stick as a way to raise awareness and to make people conscience of social distancing.

“In the morning when I came to drop these sticks off at the market, there were about six women sitting and talking to each other, they were not even a metre apart from each other.

“The whole idea behind this is to make people more conscience of social distancing.”

Temu said getting the final product ready required a bit of work – cutting branches off the hibiscus plant, cleaning, drying and a little paint job.

“It is a bit of fun but at the same time, it’s educational for everybody. The money raised will be their pocket expenses.”

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