A group of local children between the ages of four and 12 is getting ready for its first book launch.
The book Who Are The Children in our Community is the brainchild of Amelia Sirianni, director of operations with Vernon and District Immigrant and Community Services.
Sirianni’s background is working with children and the arts, and she wondered “how can we do more through an artistic lens to get children to express themselves?”
Immigrant Services then partnered with children already participating in a Literary Society program called Skills Boost, which runs out of the Boys and Girls Club.
Sirianni says the children were asked two questions: “who are you in your community?” and “who are the children in your community?”
They were given any art supplies they asked for, and the result of their creativity is now published.
“It was magnificent, really, “ says Debbie Nurse executive director of the Literacy Society of the North Okanagan. “It’s their words, they crafted it.”
The children come from a number of communities and backgrounds – “they were so happy to participate and have their own agency and voice.”
Sirianni tells of one young girl who made a bracelet and every bead was a different colour. In April’s words: “The colours in my bracelet represent all the people that live with different colours of skin and everybody who had different kinds of lives...”
“When you do projects with children, you don’t know the outcome, you are there to facilitate a journey,” says Sirianni, who couldn't be more pleased with the results.
The project started last May with a $2,500 grant from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. Workshops spanned two weekends, with printing wrapping up in late fall.
A launch party is set for Saturday at the Vernon branch of Okanagan Regional Library to coincide with the end of Literacy Week.
The book will then be available to read in the library, and Nurse hopes to have copies in local school libraries, too.
“Then the children would be able to show their friends, look, this is my book!”