I promised my new friend Brian A. Beale this post many, many weeks ago, when I was first introduced to him through the power of connection that is Facebook. Brian and I have a mutual friend in Jen Groover, the entrepreneur extraordinaire. (To call Jen a friend of mine is admittedly stretching the truth a bit, as I only know her through chatting with her briefly after a conference and recommending her as a speaker ... but I am an admirer of her sense of style, ambition, and business savvy.)
But these are how such connections are made these days, and Brian instantly became one of mine because of our shared connection as parents of children with special needs. (And I'm betting that, because he's a suburban Philadelphia guy from Delaware County, we might have a few more six degrees of separation between us.)
So allow me to introduce you to Brian, and more importantly, to his almost 12 year old son Colin. Both of these fine fellows are making a difference for children with disabilities and those who love them.
Colin has Down syndrome, and he is the inspiration and main character in his father's series of books (The Colin Series) about acceptance and inclusion. Brian's first book is title Colin Gets a Chance and the second is, My Name is Colin ... and this is who I am. Brian wrote the books "to open the lines of communication between parents and teachers with their children regarding the highly sensitive and often very delicate subject of Down syndrome and disabilities in general."
(I was thinking of Brian's books yesterday during Betty's parent-teacher conference, when it became very clear and obvious that her teacher had no idea about Boo having autism and how this affects Betty's behavior, reactions, and general sensory sensitivities that we all live with as a result.)
With the holidays upon us, perhaps there is someone in your life who has a disability who will be sitting at your table. Perhaps there are children in your life who might enjoy The Colin Series of books as a gift, in order to discover the gifts brought to the table by their sibling or relative or friend. Perhaps there is a teacher you know who might like (and need) these books for his or her classroom. In any case, these would be perfect.
What's even more unique about The Colin Series of books is that the illustrations are by individuals with Down syndrome. What an amazing boost of self-esteem and sense of accomplishment for these young and incredibly talented artists!
Brian has two books to his credit, a host of speaking engagements, a bevy of fans on Facebook, and a delightful website. (What he doesn't have yet is shelf space in the likes of Barnes and Noble or Borders, which I happen to think is unacceptable and something that would be wonderful. I'd love for Colin Gets a Chance to get a chance to be picked up by someone walking into their local bookstore and see The Colin Series on display - and not just for a special month celebrating people with disabilities.)
You can, however, order Brian's books on his website, as well as make a donation to the Lil' Bealsy Foundation which supports organizations that make a difference for people with disabilities. You can also spread awareness of the books by liking The Colin Series of Children's Books on Facebook.
This Thanksgiving, one of the things I'm grateful for is that I've gotten to know Brian as a Facebook friend and that his work will help so many other kids and families. Thanks for allowing me to share your family's story, Brian.
copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.