I am going to try to capture in this blog what our daily social media posts are trying to say about why we have written our book, ‘Trudy And Me’. There is currently a crowdfunding campaign to fund the printing of this book which has 9 days left. I want to describe the process to you so far of how the idea came about and why we have ended up with a campaign, particularly if you have been unable to come to either of our talks at Portobello and in Lanark.
It started way back at the beginning when Alex and I realised that messaging was really important to us. I had given birth to Trudy, and nobody had said ‘congratulations’. Admittedly, this was tainted by blue lights and worried paediatricians, but it dawned on us after all this that we had not heard those ubiquitous words so easily uttered to new parents of typical, healthy babies.
A week later, a thoughtful doctor finally said this to us and handed us a pack donated to the hospital which stated quite clearly, ‘congratulations on the birth of your new baby’ and a beautiful picture of a healthy, happy baby with Down’s Syndrome.
This was a positive statement and clear message that it was not all to be doom and gloom but that we were actually incredibly grateful that she had survived her first weak months in this world. It became apparent to me that this needed more leverage.
Alex has since spoken to midwives and health professionals about the importance of positive messaging at the beginning and I continued to look for this in other areas of life.
I was keen to explore children’s stories that represented children as children and not disability to read to Trudy’s brother, Patrick. There is very little representation of children with disabilities in literature and moreover very little positive representation.
I spoke to my friend Bridget about this, endless chats at the playground of frustrations around attitudes towards disability. Bridget had worked as an Occupational Therapist with adults with learning disabilities and had witnessed some of the negative and disabling behaviours we were discussing.
Bridget came back one evening with a poem, which captured the points perfectly – points about accepting and celebrating people for their differences, recognising that all people have their ups and downs and that people with Down’s Syndrome are not always happy!
She then began the mammoth task of illustrating the poem in watercolour. We chatted for a long time about the need for Trudy to look like Trudy and not a caricature, however brilliant the artist is. So, we enlisted the support of Jo Tennant, professional photographer and friend who took all the photos on this blog. We spent many a happy hour taking photos of our kids to use in the book. I’ve popped some at the bottom of this post.
The book was taking shape with the three of us learning from each other and building on each other’s strengths. We tried to approach publishers, but this was lockdown and publishers were taking fewer and fewer submissions, perhaps due to an increase in supply – who knows.
Five years after the birth of an idea, the book was ready to be printed. We started to explore the possibility of printing it ourselves so we could remain in control of the design, message and layout. Bridget spoke to a fellow parent at the line of a football pitch whilst watching their kids play and he mentioned that he was a graphic designer. Craig McIntyre then offered to digitalise our book so that we could get it to print. He sourced a printing company that could offer their services at a reasonable price.
We had all the necessary components, we just needed to fund the print costs as well as expenditure for postage, an ISBN number and fees. Our aim has always been to distribute this book to as many new parents, charities, libraries, schools and families as possible to reassure, inform and teach people about celebrating difference. We set the target at £20,000 to cover the printing of 2,500 copies as this was our only chance to print.
If you have read this far, we are absolutely overwhelmed by the donations and support offered to us by our friends and family to whom Trudy, Patrick, Bridget and her two children mean so much, but we want to make this project a reality and we need everyone’s help to do this.
Please check out our website: http://www.trudyandme.com and you can pledge your support at: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/trudy-me-a-picture-book-celebrating-difference.
This has been a long labour of love and commitment to making the world a more positive place for all.