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 overarching 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.
‘Our Year 9 EAL/D class at Dakabin had the pleasure of hearing Jenny Woolsey, speaker and author, visit our school recently. As our students were studying the book, ‘Wonder’ by R J Palacio, her talk really resonated with us all. It was so inspiring to hear her talk about her experiences with craniofacial differences, very similar to the main character in the book. Her talk was so informative, entertaining and also touching. It really helped our students to make the connection between someone in the real world and the main character, August Pullman. I would highly recommend Jenny as a speaker, particularly for Year 9 students studying the book ‘Wonder’. I know our school is looking forward to hearing her again next year.’ – Dakabin State High School
‘After reading the book Wonder by R J Palacio to our Year 5s we invited Jenny to speak about her and her children’s experiences with their facial difference (Crouzon syndrome). Jenny held the interest of 44 children, most of whom find it difficult to sit still and listen, for a whole hour. She was thoroughly engaging and made these types of conditions real to them. She is real, funny, brave and an inspiration. She has given our students an experience that they won’t forget in a long time.’ – Our Lady of the Way
‘We were very fortunate to have a highly respected and successful local author visit Minimbah State School during National Action against Bullying and Violence awareness week. Jenny Woolsey spoke from the heart as she read passionately from her first novel, with characters based on her life experiences. Jenny shared some of her effective strategies with our students during her speech on assembly, motivating many students to take against bullying. It was an extremely valuable opportunity to have such a passionate, kind and caring person share her stories with our students in the hope that her words and novels will make a difference supporting others. Minimbah community thanks you Jenny.’ – Minimbah State School
‘Buddina State School was very blessed to have Jenny come and share her story and that of others living with difference. Each lesson was created age appropriately and the children really enjoyed discovering and celebrating their own personal uniqueness and sameness. Staff were also provided with some very practical skills to work with children with disabilities and managing difference in their classrooms. I highly recommend Jenny’s inclusion story for all schools and their communities.’ – Buddina State School
‘Jenny spoke to my Year 8 class after we finished reading the novel “Wonder”. It was such a great way to wrap up our novel study and reinforce the novel’s message of showing kindness, empathy and compassion to those who are “different”. The students enjoyed hearing stories of what it was like for Jenny growing up with a facial difference, and how she became all the more resilient from dealing with bullies. Jenny’s positivity shone through her presentation, and it was a pleasure to have her with us today!’ – Pine Rivers State High School
‘Our school has been blessed to have Jenny visit our school and share her stories and her wisdom and advice for each and every one of us. We can all have times in our lives where we feel a bit down or anxious and Jenny shared some strategies to help us cope through these times.
Jenny spoke with all of the Year 4s, 5s and 6s about her message, ‘It’s great to be different,’ and shared her own personal stories. The students were captivated by this presentation from someone who is credible and has lived and survived, through bullying and judgement. The take away message was: Embrace your difference and be tolerant of others.
The Year 4s also had an opportunity to have Jenny visit their classrooms for a writing workshop, which was based on Ride High Pineapple. The workshop explored feelings of being uncomfortable and anxious, journal writing and then creating students’ own experiences and imagining by designing their own skateboard image.
Thank you, Jenny. I will need to buy some more copies of your books, as they are very popular!’ – Scarborough State School