Children’s book offers the language to communicate

By Bernard Pryor

THE Salvation Army’s Communities for Children program has launched a powerful new children’s book thanks to funding assistance from The Australian Government.

Communities for Children manager Stacey Milbourne warmly welcomed an audience of more than 40 dignitaries and guests to the official launch event, which was held on 27 November.

She said the Communities for Children program improved the health, development and wellbeing of children through intervention programs.

The program and its many community partners target the safety and aspirations of children.

It assists disadvantaged children in the community, including children who have a family member in prison, who may have lost contact with a parent, who have physical and mental health issues, or experience instability and occasional homelessness.

The Salvation Army helps children understand their situation, build resilience and seek support.

By progressively publishing books designed for children and not adults, The Salvation Army is building valuable resources for those assisting children in coping with challenging personal and social issues.

‘Waiting for Dad: A story about supporting a friend’ is the sixth book in a series written by Mary Koolhof and illustrated by Mich Owen.

This story depicts a lad whose father has gone to prison and has to manage the social stigma surrounding this situation and rise above it.

Ms Koolhof said that for many of us, life could take unexpected twists and turns.

“When that happens, we all appreciate some support, maybe from a grandparent, a trusted friend or a sports coach,” she said.

Waiting for Dad was road-tested by many individuals and groups, as well as a number of prisoners from Risdon Prison.

Their reviews of the content and the language choice strengthened the text to make it readily accessible and meaningful to young people.

Rosalie Martin, the 2017 Tasmanian Australian of the Year, began her address to the audience at the launch by reciting a poem by Noel Davis titled “Oh to Have a Home and Heart That Big”.

Within the poem, a keyword ‘magnanimous’ (meaning kind and generous) encapsulates the concept the author was trying to convey about how each of us should approach people who are in need.

Ms Martin emphasised that we should use fairness, equity and support for those whose lives have gone a different way.

“We should see stigma and shake it, as stigma only does harm,” she said.

“The book, Waiting for Dad, provides children with a language to communicate about their situation.”

Ms Martin said that every child was entitled to and worthy of attention, respect and love.

“We can fill our life with ‘shoulds’ or we can go out and do – the Communities for Children program has done this with this book series.”

For more information about the program and the six books in the series, visit www.cfctas.org.au or contact Communities for Children at The Salvation Army on 6228 8419.

Caption: Author Mary Koolhof with Rotary International Literacy chairman John Thorne.