In starting BeaLu Books, something that was important to me was to find ways to use our talents and connections to give back. One way we are doing this is with a Give Back Project. Each year, BLB will publish a project that focuses on an issue or a cause. Part of the proceeds from the project will go back to an organization related to the cause and a portion of the books will be donated as well. Our first Give Back Project is a healing journal for kids in fourth through eighth grade who have experienced a trauma in their lives.
The story behind the healing journal we are creating is full of interesting twists and turns. It started when a friend’s middle grade son was going through cancer treatments. My friends always come to me for book suggestions. So when my friend asked for books that would help her son deal with the emotions of cancer and help him see himself outside of cancer and there wasn’t a lot I could recommend, a seed was planted.
Then I happened to meet Lina Safar at a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) event in Tampa. Tampa is not known as a hotbed for children’s publishing so meeting Lina, a children’s book illustrator and an amazing person, was destiny.
Lina collaborated with Mercy Corps and UNICEF to develop the illustrations and design for a series of support products written in both English and Arabic to help Syrian refugee children recover from psychological trauma (http://linasafar.com/2014/02/03/comfort-for-kids-a-project-for-syria/). This beautifully done project brought me back to my friend’s son. Why couldn’t we do a similar project for kids who had cancer, a chronic disease, or disability? Lina and I met and started brainstorming the possibilities.
Now we knew what we wanted to do, but we still needed a writer. And that is where the project took a big turn. In December, I attended the holiday party for the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project (TBAWP) and there I met Haley VanCox. Haley is passionate about helping people to live happy, fulfilling lives through her work in positive psychology coaching. She is also passionate about sharing the stories of people with terminal illnesses. When I told her about the healing journal project, there was a genuine goose-bump, teary-eyed moment. I’d found the writer!
On our first meeting about the project, Haley and I realized that we didn’t want to limit the healing journal to kids with health-related traumas. We wanted a journal that would reach out to all kids experiencing traumas large and small. In addition to getting through the tween and teen years, surviving natural disasters, and health issues, a sad fact that brought this realization home is, “recent statistics in the USA report that up to 40 percent of young people are affected by trauma (e.g., divorce, domestic violence, abuse, neglect).” By creating a healing journal that integrates writing, art, music, positive psychology, and even some crazy fun facts, we could help kids acknowledge and then move beyond the trauma in their lives and find their own strength, resilience, and superpowers.
So here we are… Luana, Lina, and Haley and we have our project. Now, all we need is a title!
Follow this blog for sneak peaks and updates as we work on our Give Back Project. For more information, email me at Luana@BeaLuBooks.com.