East Victoria Park disability support worker celebrates differences in A Friend Like Mine

East Victoria Park disability support worker celebrates differences in A Friend Like Mine

THE strength of children with disabilities is celebrated in a unique book about friendship inspired by Piara Waters resident Fletcher Garrett (11).

Fletcher has cerebral palsy and the book, A Friend Like Mine, was written by his disability support worker Samantha Warne.

The book was launched this month to normalise disabilities by celebrating individuals’ strengths and abilities.

Former teacher Ms Warne said the book would lead to a series of inclusive workshops to educate children that different wasn’t wrong.

“I believe that children need to be taught that just because someone is born different, does not mean they are born wrong,” she said.

A Friend Like Mine follows Fletcher, a young boy with cerebral palsy, as he navigates his community and friendships with kids just as unique as he is.

“Though it is implied that the characters he encounters have a disability, the take away message is that it doesn’t really matter.

“Every character has a strength or talent that makes them special outside of their disability.

“This story teaches kids to celebrate the things that they or others are good at, not the things they are unable to do.”

Ms Warne, a National Disability Services WA Disability Support Award winner, said her aim in releasing the book was to not only showcase Fletcher’s strengths, but the strengths of other children with disabilities.

“Fletch is very aware of everything that goes on around him and is a captivating and vibrant kid in spite of the rough hand life has dealt him,” she said.

“It is impossible not to love Fletch, who has found his own ways of communicating even though he cannot speak.”

To fund the book, Ms Warne created a GoFundMe page where she shared her emotional driver for its publication, saying that more than four million or one in five Australians live with a disability, and one in 12 people living with a disability had experienced discrimination or unfair treatment because of their disability.

The first-time author raised more than $10,500 for A Friend Like Mine and partnered with publishing company Little Steps, who subsidised part of the costs.

Additional funds were given to the Garrett family to help pay for Fletcher’s physical therapy.

Ms Warne now plans to take the book in to classrooms and conduct workshops with students and teachers to open a dialogue about disability, inclusivity, compassion, acceptance, respect and individuality.

The book is available online at afriendlikemine.com.