Tallaght author teams up to highlight inclusion with new empowering book

by Padraig Conlon

A Dublin dad, who launched a series of children’s books of empowering stories, is teaming up with Special Olympics and Down Syndrome Ireland.

Gavin Leonard from Tallaght is the author of the “Not Just a Princess” books which were released earlier this year.

The idea to create the books came to Gavin after he searched for stories to read to his then 2-year-old daughter, Jade.

What he found was limited and so he decided to create his own army of princesses for his daughter.

The concept behind the books is to highlight strong role models for young girls and boys, and to break away from traditional gender stereotypes with stories that are made for everyone.

Each princess has a unique set of skills and, along with her animal sidekick, helps people to solve problems in the fictional land of ‘Wonderville’.

The six-book series will now see a new title launched this month that will once again follow Jade on her adventures with a new friend named Nora who is a Special Olympics athlete and lifeguard.

The culturally diverse and inclusive books series have already sold over 6,000 copies worldwide and creator, Gavin is hoping that the new charity book can raise some serious funds for charity while raising awareness of both organisations.

“We have had such amazing support over the last 12 months and we really wanted to do something to give back to the community,” Gavin told Dublin Gazette.

“A charity book seemed like the perfect way to do just that!

“I’m so pleased to feature ‘Nora’, a Special Olympics athlete, in this book alongside Princess Jade.

“The character is based on my second cousin, Nora, who speaks Chinese and English.

“Our families have been close for a long time and watching Nora grow up I have always been so amazed at her determination and her kind heart.”

Gary Owens, CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland, said: “Down syndrome should not define who a person is and what they can do and achieve and the ‘Not Just a Princess’ book really reflects that.

“As people with Down syndrome are given opportunities to lead more inclusive lives, we see more and more what they can achieve, and we are very proud to be part of that journey.”

In March more than €10,000 was raised during a Kickstarter campaign to make the project a reality.

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