Polytech senior Kristen Ball was chosen by the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens to illustrate a book titled “All My Different Friends at School.” The book is designed to be used by the Governor’s Advisory Council to teach students in early childhood centers about disabilities and differences.
The Governor’s Advisory Council currently runs a program teaching disability awareness for elementary-school children, but decided that it was time to tackle awareness in early childhood centers, said Sybil White, program coordinator for the Advisory Council’s disability education and awareness program.
“We’ll take the book into schools with a hands-on component that will use aids to allow students to get their hands on things,” White said.
Ball was selected to work on the book through her visual communications class. Each student in the class was asked to draw a sample page for the book. The Governor’s Advisory Council chose Ball because they felt her illustration style was the most effective, White said.
“We felt like hers would best represent what children see, through the eyes of a 3-year-old or 4-year-old,” she said.
The book follows a girl who is explaining all of the different types of friends that she has and what makes them different, as she makes her way to school. Each page of the book features a different character with a unique quality, White said.
“The goal is to point out that, yes, there are differences and that differences are okay. We just want to introduce the children to those differences.”
It took Ball roughly a year to complete the illustrations. She started her work by drawing out what each of the 10 unique characters would look like, she then drew the characters with their disability or difference, before drawing them in their scene. Ball started by drawing the illustrations using pencil and paper, she then completed them using computer programs. Ball enjoyed working on the project, she said.
“I liked that it showed a positive side of a bunch of disabilities, which can sometimes scare kids,” Ball said. “One kid in the book has a feeding tube and when you’re really young you don’t really understand what that is, but [the book] put it in terms that a kid could understand.”
Ball’s work not only helped her to educate other children, it also helped her learn about the disabilities that people struggle with and allowed her to give back, she said.
“I felt like I was helping my community and helping a certain age group of kids to branch out and get along with everyone,” Ball said.
Page 2 of 2 - “All My Different Friends at School” has been published and was presented at an awards ceremony held by the Governor’s Advisory Council last week. Now that the book is complete, Ball is hoping that her work will help to inspire others.
“I want to inspire people,” Ball said. “They’ll see in the book it mentions that I’m only in high school, so they can see that they can grow up and they can illustrate books when they’re only 17 and that they can do things even if they have a disability. Nothing should hold them back.”