LAFAYETTE, LA (KADN)- A University of Louisiana at Lafayette alumna has published a children’s book to bring awareness and acceptance to those with disabilities.
Nia Skye’s Friend on Wheels is the first book in the alumna’s Inclusive K.R.E.W.E series that focuses on kindness, respect, embracement, wisdom, and equity.
The book was inspired by the author’s own experience of having a close friend who has a disability.
“We were taught back then I was growing up we were taught to not stare or to not make fun of someone, but not really how to befriend them and actually be an ally,” Keylonda Wheeler, author of Nia Skye’s Friends on Wheels, said.
Wheeler said she didn’t know how to treat a person with special needs until her adulthood.
“One of my best, best truest friends uses a wheelchair. She was able to teach me along the way, different things about accessibility, things that I wouldn't have otherwise known because it just wasn't my life experience,” Wheeler said.
The relationship between the two motivated Wheeler to share their experience in a way her five-year-old, Nia, would understand.
“We, you know, wrote the book and she saw all the illustrations about it. And then one day we were at a local restaurant and she saw a child, using a wheelchair and their family, you know, exiting the restaurant,” Wheeler said.
Now her daughter knows how to treat a person with special needs.
“She has this vocabulary and the language to use about it in a way that is you know respectful and kind and I think that's the most important thing I wanted to affirm that kindness in her that she already has, and just teach her the best way to apply it as she's out in the world,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler believes that her book can help other parents and educators create a safe space for all children.
“If you have a child that maybe this will be their first exposure to someone who uses a wheelchair, it will allow you to answer some of those questions, maybe some things that you don't know you all can look up and research together,” Wheeler said.
The author is currently writing the next book in the Inclusive K.R.E.W.E. series which will bring awareness to children with speech and language impairments.