USA Today bestselling author and 2017 Attitude Artistic Achievement winner Steff Green is using crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to publish her first children’s book aimed at helping kids deal with bullying.
New Zealand has a real problem with bullying in schools. Over a quarter of students taking part in a recent OECD survey reported being bullied a few times a month, well over the international average. 94% of all teachers indicate that bullying goes on at their schools, and 68% believe that this bullying starts young – between preschool and Year 4.
The story of empowerment for minorities is also the story of the reshaping, or reclaiming, of harmful language.Many of these kids being bullied are living with disabilities. I know, because I was one.
I am vision-impaired, so I could never play sports like other kids. I was also a generally imaginative, weird, and introverted child. I wasn’t like the other kids, so they would ostracize me, call me names, deliberately invent games to humiliate me, lock me in cupboards, tell me that I was stupid, useless, pointless, that I should just go away, that I should never have been born.
It’s hard to deal with this as a kid, because you think ‘if I could just be like everyone else, then all this torture would stop'. But I couldn’t make my eyes work – the same way another kid can’t change the colour of their skin or their cultural background or whatever their bullies chose to pick on. At that age you can’t understand that the bullying isn’t about you – it’s about someone else and their insecurities. And there’s no easy way to make it stop.
That’s why I wrote Only Freaks Turn Things Into Bones – a children’s picture book to help kids deal with being bullied. I want kids like me to be able to see themselves in this book and understand that it does get better, and that just because other people don’t accept them doesn’t mean something is wrong with them.
My friend Bree Roldan illustrated the book and has brought to life the story of a cute grim reaper who doesn’t have any friends because all the kids are afraid of him. At the end of the book, he learns to accept who he is and finds out he can be friends with the other kids who are also bullied.
Together, the “freaks” have more fun than their bullies.
We’ve taken the book to Kickstarter to raise the funds for the first print run. We launched on June 1 and we’re 35% funded, which means there’s a very good chance we’re going to hit our goal. We’ve got 22 days left to raise the funds. We need $8,000 to make the project happen. Kickstarter is all-or-nothing funding, so we’ve got to reach their goal or the book won’t happen.
If you’ve ever struggled with bullying, or you know a kid who could really do with reading this story, or if you just think this is an important story that needs to be told, PLEASE help us by backing the project and spreading the word!