Do your students need to think about diversity and be accepting of others who they see as different?
I present a diversity presentation with an emphasis on the fact that we are all different, and it’s great to be unique. My overaching theme as an author and speaker is Be Weirdly Wonderful! Embrace your difference. I encourage the students who are labelled as ‘different’ to embrace who they are. My life is diversity and no one in my family fits the norm.
It takes guts to stand out from the crowd in a world that wants everyone to look a certain way and to fit into a round hole. This particularly helps the square pegs out there!
Have your students read the novel Wonder by RJ Palacio and you would like them to meet a person with a craniofacial syndrome?
In my To Be or Not To Be a Wonder presentation, I compare and contrast the novel Wonder by RJ Palacio, to my lived experience. I educate the students on what facial differences are, what it’s like being born with a craniofacial syndrome, and I share stories from my own experience and those of my children.
This is my most popular talk and is linked to the Australian curriculum.
Do your students need some education on bullying?
Having grown up with a craniofacial syndrome, from the moment I was born I was stared at, pointed at and made fun of. I was bullied all through my schooling. My children who also have my craniofacial syndrome have been bullied. My youngest daughter who has Down syndrome, has been bullied. As a classroom teacher I saw bullying. My heart is for the children who experience bullying.
Three of my novels, Ride High Pineapple, Brockwell the Brave, and Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight, have the theme of bullying in them. Thus, in my presentations and workshops I present bullying strategies as well as mental health activities.
I Would Love to Come and Visit Your School!
I am available for talks and workshops at primary and high schools.
I have a list of topics I speak about and workshop. These can be modified to suit the audience.
I speak to Prep students through to teachers.
I can work with a class through to a year level/lower, middle, upper students.
Fees are charged at the Australian Society of Authors rates.
Please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 0419 704 803 if you have queries or would be interested in having me at your school.
Author Talk & Storytelling Sessions
In my author talk I share my journey to becoming an author, and about my books. Writing activities can be included.
I also do storytelling sessions.
Creative Writing Workshops
I run creative writing workshops on a variety of topics related to my books:
1) Positive mental health (skateboarding (exercise), breathing, affirmations, visualisation as a pineapple, journaling) – based on Ride High Pineapple
2) Create your own dragon – based on Brockwell the Brave
3) Writing fantasy or action scenes.
To Be or Not to be a Wonder
If your class has read the book ‘Wonder’ by RJ Palacio, then this is the perfect talk for your students.
I speak about Auggie and how his life compares to my own childhood experience growing up with a craniofacial syndrome. I briefly talk about my two children who also have my syndrome and some of their experiences. Facial differences are explained, and I share significant stories from my childhood. The other characters from Wonder are also discussed.
I relate my life to the students who feel different, and I give them strategies to cope and rise up, to become the greatest version of themselves they can be. If time permits I also give strategies for what to do when a student meets someone who is different.
This talk is suitable for primary or secondary, and is Australian curriculum linked.
Included with this presentation is a copy of Jenny’s YA novel, Ride High Pineapple.
Watch this video for a sample:
Ride High Pineapple Talk & Writing Workshop
My international seller, Ride High Pineapple, has as its main character, Issy, who has my craniofacial syndrome. It has a very different plot to Wonder by RJ Palacio, but the same facial difference theme. It also includes bullying, severe anxiety, friendship issues and skateboarding.
This talk includes what facial differences are, my journey and information on bullying, with a practical visualisation strategy using the analogy of a pineapple.
The writing workshop includes designing a skateboard using positive affirmations, a pineapple activity, as well as breathing techniques and journaling.
Diversity and Difference Mindsets
I give a diversity talk where I speak about being different and society’s negative labels. I offer mindsets for how to be happy with one’s uniqueness and to develop resilience. This presenation will help your students to rise above bullying and prejudices to find inner strength, focus and determination, for inner growth and success.
Journey to an Ordinary Life – Inclusive Education
This talk is about my journey with my youngest daughter who has Down syndrome, through the early years, my fears, then the purposeful vision and decisions made to help my daughter achieve an ordinary life. I discuss what is true inclusion and the ups and downs from a parent’s point of view (but also with the understanding of the teacher point of view). I give practical tips and strategies for staff, parents and grandparents who have a child with special needs.