Jo Meserve Mach spent 36 years as an Occupational Therapist. She is very passionate about inclusion and the development of skills needed for self-determination and independence. Jo views inclusion from a functional perspective. She hopes our books share how children with special needs can be actively involved in their daily lives. Increasing the participation and engagement of children and young adults with disabilities into family and community activities, enriches the lives of everyone. She believes all children have incredible strengths that sometimes just need some environmental adaptations to help them be realized. Early Childhood and Special Vera Lynne Stroup-Rentier has 25 years of experience teaching within the fields of Education. She has a PhD in Special Education from the University of Kansas. Her current work as the Assistant Director on the state Early Childhood, Special Education, and Title Services team at the Kansas State Department of Education gives her the opportunity to shape policy decisions impacting the lives of students with special educational needs. Vera is passionate about the inclusion of each and every child in settings where they would be if they did not have a disability. She brings the perspective of inclusion and the promotion of self-determination from her work with families, teachers and therapists over 25 year career. Parenting a teen and tween with special needs enrich her life. Mary Birdsell is a freelance photographer and a former middle school speech and theatre teacher. She brings her talents in art and design to our books. Mary strives to create images that reflect the strengths of each child. She feels that an image can project a child's voice and abilities within their environment. Mary's background in education, theatre and photography intersect as she visually creates our books. Within each story, she uses colors and shapes to promote the child's growth and development of skills needed for self-determination as demonstrated through their story.
Finding My Way Books: Bilingual Books Starring Kids with Special Needs Finding My Way is an independently published series of non-fiction children's books featuring diverse children with a wide range of special needs or disabilities. The stories are told in the child's voice and are accompanied by photographs of daily activities such as going to the zoo or preparing for a holiday. Photos also show family members, friends, pets, and other important details of the child's day. Each story highlights the ways the children are becoming more independent in their activities - in the words of the authors, "'finding their way' toward living a life as a self-determined adult." For example, in Marco and I Want to Play Ball, a young boy with Spina Bifida shares his story of playing baseball with his cousin and grandfather. The books also include guidance for families and teachers on how to use the books at home and in the classroom, as well as additional information about the featured child and family. The books are written by a team of educators and professionals who have many combined years of experience in working with children with special needs; they launched the series to help increase the visibility of kids with disabilities in children's books through authentic stories. Realistic, accessible, and uplifting, these books are an important resource not only for kids who have special needs but for broader audiences of children who can learn from the protagonists' strengths, challenges, and achievements. All books are available in English and Spanish. -Lydia Breiseth Colorin Colorado