New book hopes to transform our ways
TWO colourful picture book characters dreamed up by a couple of passionate Byron Shire mums may help to transform the way we treat people with disabilities.
Teacher Erin Knutt and digital designer Misa Alexander have launched a social media campaign to raise $9000 to publish a picture book for the cause.
Their two fictional characters - Fergus, a loveable boy "wired a little bit differently" to most, and his close friend Delilah - will embark on an adventure that teaches children "they can be friends with anyone".
The book also promises to have a ripper of a story to captivate the young and old.
Misa received the inspiration for the book from her son Hugo, who is on the autism spectrum and initially struggled to make friends.
In response she sent a flyer about Hugo to all the children and the response was amazing, with the other kids "getting it" straight away and Hugo's experience at school vastly improved.
Inspired to come up with a picture book to repeat the effect on a larger scale, she teamed up with Erin.
The pair successfully applied for a Dreamstarter grant with ING Direct which has already given $1900 towards their crowdfunding campaign, a campaign aiming to reach a minimum of $9000 by November 17.
That $9000 would fund 1000 copies of the book to be distributed to schools throughout the region.
"The most we can raise is $35,000 which will get to half of the primary schools and pre-schools in Australia," Ms Knutt said.
As a special needs teacher, she said society's approach to people with disabilities was still characterised by an "us and them" philosophy.
"Especially kids on the autism spectrum can be very bright individuals, if we allow them to excel in their area they can become leading professionals," she said.
"If we don't, we're allowing the 15% of our population to become non-functional; which is ridiculous.
"We want to start with children, with the picture books, because adults already have their hangups, but kids are just learning their social habits.
"If we can teach a kid to overcome their differences right at the very beginning then that becomes the new norm for them.
"Hopefully then in future society will function a lot better for everyone."
Contributions to the campaign can be made at www.startsomegood. com/fergus-delilah