Glen McMillan and Ayla-Jane Ogle are on a mission to normalise disability with their creation of a children’s e-book series The Fun-tastic 7.
McMillan came up with the idea and concept of the e-book to fund the Northland-based charity Children With Disability.
In April this year, McMillan teamed up with Charlie Germain and Kylee Ostermann to start the charity. Their mission was to take the initiative to improve more parks add accessibility and add more sensory projects to Northland. Their aim is to make Northland the most disabled-friendly region in New Zealand.
CWD chief executive Germain said there were not many disability charities in Northland and they were wide across the disabled group. Their charity was formed purely for the children in the community.
“Northland is a big region and we are very under-resourced. The children with disabilities are not looked after that well.”
The charity, mainly formed to fund a liberty/wheelchair swing in Whangārei, thought they needed to do more for the disabled community.
“We are looking at implementing splash pads which are interactive fountains. For a lot of children with autism, it is all about sensory,” said Germain.
“Then we thought why don’t we have a sensory garden somewhere. Somewhere you could feel, smell, touch different textures, wheelchair high garden pads. Next year, we are hoping to set up a sensory room in Whangārei.”
McMillan said the e-book, as part of the initiative, would help provide financial help for the charity to grow.
The book has seven main characters and five of them are kids with some disabilities. All seven kids are part of the Fun-tastic 7.
While McMillan was the brain behind the concept, Ogle did the story writing, designing and brought McMillan’s concept to life.
Ogle said she used his idea to create stories, and each story brings all the kids together as they helped each other in various situations.
A sneak-peak into the new children e-book Fun-tastic 7. Photo / Supplied.
“In the book, the kids work together. We also show how the kids with disabilities help the other kids.
“Most characters in the book are based on real-life people and their experiences and are named after Glen’s animals. One of them who is in a wheelchair is named Toby, after his dog. Another character Telly is suffering from dyslexia, just like Glen.”
McMillan fell from his pushbike at the age of 10 and became a child with a disability. After almost four years in hospital, he returned to a normal school.
The now 61-year-old said the other kids weren’t too kind to him then and he could imagine the situation might not have changed so much in the present.
“I want to normalise disability and would like to get this book out to kids all across the globe. When they read it from anywhere in the world, they can learn and understand that kids with disabilities are not abnormal.
“I also suffer from dyslexia, my biggest weakness is that I cannot often spell things correctly, but that does not come in the way of life.
“Young children expect to play with other kids, and disabled kids are no different. Kids are just kids at the end of the day.
“Not just physical or mental disabilities, we are also focusing on serious illnesses such as cancer in the book.
“The book is about education and awareness.”
For more info check Children With Disability out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/childrenwithdisability