Bond helps book break down bar­ri­ers

Southern Gazette (Victoria Park) - - News - Ben Smith www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d474530

THE first time East Vic­to­ria Park res­i­dent Sa­man­tha Warne met Fletcher Gar­rett, she knew they had an in­stant con­nec­tion.

Such was the bond be­tween them, Fletcher has served as the in­spi­ra­tion for her up­com­ing book, A Friend of Mine.

The book hu­man­ises peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and shows they should be treated no dif­fer­ently to any­one else.

Warne said her friend­ship with Fletcher, who has cere­bral palsy, mo­ti­vated her to write the book after notic­ing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties were un­der-rep­re­sented in chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture.

“I re­ally like read­ing to him and I just re­alised the more books we were read­ing to­gether, I hadn’t re­ally seen many re­sources or a lot of texts avail­able to kids where the main char­ac­ters are young kids with dis­abil­i­ties,” she said.

“I thought it would be cool if there were other sup­port work­ers out there, or teach­ers, fam­i­lies who wanted to start a di­a­logue about kids with dis­abil­i­ties or in­ter­act­ing with mem­bers of the com­mu­nity with dis­abil­i­ties, it would be cool to have more re­sources avail­able to them.”

Warne said the main chal­lenge was writ­ing for a younger au­di­ence while also deal­ing with del­i­cate, ma­ture themes.

“One of the chal­lenges of writ­ing this book is be­ing able to cre­ate a text which was able to start a di­a­logue with­out min­imis­ing the ex­pe­ri­ences of in­di­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties too much. Be­cause it’s a chil­dren’s book, I didn’t want to over-sim­plify to a point it was pa­tro­n­is­ing,” she said.

“The dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters Fletcher in­ter­acts with in the book, it’s in the sub­text they might be liv­ing with a dis­abil­ity, but their dis­abil­ity is never ex­plic­itly men­tioned.”

Warne said she bonded with Fletcher, who at­tends Ham­mond Park Pri­mary School, al­most in­stantly dur­ing their first meet­ing and she soon re­alised how alert and smart he was.

“You could tell by his fa­cial ex­pres­sions, he’s so alert in the way he looks around the room; he un­der­stands ev­ery­thing go­ing on,” she said.

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son

Di­rec­tions Dis­abil­ity Sup­port Ser­vices CEO El­iz­a­beth Barnes with Fletcher Gar­rett and Sa­man­tha Warne.

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