What an exciting week! What better place to launch a children’s story book creating awareness of the experiences of children who are neglected, than in Disneyland. It was a huge honour to attend JT Foxx’s Mega Success event in Disneyland Anaheim, an event which brings together business owners from more than 70 countries and all five continents to share their successes and more importantly, the factors that contributed to their success.
The common denominator for all of these amazing people was that they all passionately believed in the concept of adding enormous value to their clients, to their communities and to society in general. No surprise then that there was overwhelming support for the launch of “Sunny’s Ray of Hope”, a project I collaborated on with Mama Goose, an educator and children’s storyteller from Houston, Texas.
The storybook is geared towards 8 to 10 year olds to read themselves, and for teachers, social workers, foster carers and others to read to children in their care. It tells the story of Kayley, a sad and lonely little girl whose mother is struggling to meet her needs. Life for Kayley is characterised by loneliness, as mum regularly leaves her unattended, hunger and not having warm clothes to wear. Her ray of hope is her imaginary friend Sunny, a big, bright, cheerful sun who talks to her to raise her spirits and also to help her confront the reality of her situation. Sunny encourages Kayley to accept that some aspects of her life are not appropriate and that she needs to speak up to get help for both her and her mum. Sunny and Kayley discuss who might be the most appropriate person to speak with and eventually decide on the school counsellor. Having made the decision to take action and speak up Kayley is clearly happier and more confident.
In the pre-publication testing, Mama Goose read Kayley’s story to children in the identified age group and was surprised at how much discussion it generated. Children were able to give voice to some of the challenges they faced.
Child neglect continues to be the most common form of maltreatment in most Western countries. It is also the one that professionals struggle with the most. The purpose of this book is to raise awareness, not just among young people themselves but also to ensure that professionals in all sectors and particularly education, social work, family support and foster care have a tool with which to open up conversations with children to help them ask for help. Sunny’s Ray of Hope is the first in a series of story books on neglect for different age groups.
My goal is to ensure that this book is available in every primary school in Northern Ireland and Ireland, every library and in all social work offices, family centres, afterschool clubs and children’s organisations. How can you help?
Let’s put the focus on child neglect and take action to help children like Kayley get better support and outcomes. For more information and to receive a free copy of the ebook email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sunny’s Ray of Hope is available at Amazon.com.