A Northwood art teacher has written and illustrated a children’s book about self-positivity and dedicated it to her younger brother, who has struggled with severe health problems.
Nicola Bedenham, who teaches at Frithwood Primary School, has published I Am Fabulous, inspired “by what it’s like growing up feeling different from everyone else.” It touches on the subjects of acceptance, compassion, mindfulness and gender inclusion.
Nicola drew on her brother Chris’ childhood experiences, who is transgender, on the autistic spectrum and later developed paranoid personality disorder.
Nicola, who grew up in the 70’s, explained: “He was accepted into a top ballet school at the age of 11, but due to his learning disabilities, they felt they could not support him and he was asked to leave. Not being able to follow his dreams and be his true self led to increasingly poor mental health in later life.
“He made himself homeless and was living on the streets in London – he would not communicate with anyone and was eventually sectioned. He now lives with my parents.
“I wrote this positive story for him so he could remember what he was about in the beginning and to help all children recognise their worth and be proud of who they are.”
While her brother was homeless, Nicola made a painting of empowerment as a way of trying to “reach him”.
There is an art project, inspired by that original painting, within the book to help children to celebrate who they are.
The book, which has received plenty of positive reviews since it came out, may even become commonplace in schools.
Nicola said: “Some schools are going to use the book to help support the new curriculum coming into force in September surrounding inclusion, and I hope to visit schools and talk to children about the issues arising from the themes found in the book and guide the teaching staff in making the artwork. I have already made the artwork inspired by the story with children from my school and they loved it.”
The book is available on amazon.co.uk now.