A brother and sister whose parents are on the frontline of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in North Wales have used their break from school to create a Lockdown version of board game favourite Monopoly.
Now Giovanni Bugelli, 11, and his sister Julia, 16, from Prestatyn, hope their bright idea will raise money for the North Wales NHS charity Awyr Las.
They came up with the idea after telling their mum, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd psychiatrist Tania, that they were bored with all the usual board games.
She challenged them to come up with something fresh and Lockdown Monopoly was born – instead of Old Kent Road, Fenchurch Street Station and Trafalgar Square their board features TV subscriptions, hand sanitiser, a PPE factory and the Vaccine Lab.
Players negotiate life under Lockdown, trying to acquire necessities and luxuries while steering clear of pitfalls, instead of Go To Jail you have to Self-Isolate, snap up Toilet Paper and upgrade it and you could be sitting pretty.
DIY copies of the game can be downloaded, in return for a donation, from a link through the website for Awyr Las, the charity covering the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board area.
All proceeds are going to Awyr Las and will be specifically targeted to Adolescent Mental Health Services, a subject close to the family’s hearts but the children are hoping that the game could be taken up by a big distributor to earn even more for the charity.
Tania and husband George, an Ysbyty Glan Clwyd anaesthetist, are originally from Malta and live in Prestatyn, and she said: “They worked it all out themselves, jotting their ideas on scrap paper; we tried playing it and it developed from there.
“It has not been easy for the children with both of us working at the hospital full time but they’ve found a way of coping.”
Giovanni is in his final year at Fairholme preparatory school in St Asaph while Julia is at Ysgol Glan Clwyd, also in St Asaph, and had been due to take her GCSEs this summer but both have found themselves at home with time on their hands.
They have used the basis of the Monopoly board but instead of touring round the board buying properties and accumulating wealth, it’s about surviving Lockdown and gathering valuables paid for using Value Points instead of cash.
That means swanky addresses like Park Lane and Mayfair are replaced on the board by the most precious commodities which are video-calling and social media: “They help you stay in touch with your family and friends,” explained Giovanni.
“We designed everything to make it as much like the original as possible but we also included pictures. We used a basic word processing programme and anyone could create it.
“Having a garden is a valuable commodity as are music and baking goods. You can accumulate upgrades instead of houses so with baking that could mean an electric instead of a hand whisk.”
They have recreated the familiar but with a twist so that Chance and Community Chest cards feature characters like Colonel Tom and the Prime Minister – if you’re an NHS hero you collect 200 Value Points or in the absence of the Prime Minister you have to chair a Cobra meeting at Westminster and pay a fine.
Julia, a Welsh speaker, said: “I was due to take my GCSEs so it has been a massive disappointment but I hope to get the exam grades I deserve.
“I think I’ve coped quite well and tried to keep myself busy – Giovanni and I start every day with the Joe Wicks P.E. workout session and we try to structure our day to include school work and music. I play the piano, he plays guitar and board games of course, and I’ve been trying out some new recipes.
“It has been stressful with mum and dad working at the hospital and Giovanni has been having nightmares about losing one or both parents.”
“But I think we’ve held it together as a family and the board game has definitely helped – it plays really well and it has been fun to develop it.
“The first time we played Giovanni won and the next time I did but we want to make it available for others to enjoy.
“It was meant for ourselves but after sharing it with some friends and posting it on Facebook we had such a positive reaction that we felt encouraged to make it available to raise money for the charity.”
If you’d like to play their special re-imagined version of the classic family game, you can download your copy to print at home in return for a small donation towards Awyr Las. Just go to https://awyrlas.org.uk/julia-giovanni-lockdown-monopoly
For more information on Awyr Las NHS Charity go to https://awyrlas.org.uk/