Children from VOYPIC – Voice of Young People in Care – have launched a new story book, ‘Kindness and Superpowers’, to help raise awareness of the care experience across Northern Ireland.
VOYPIC is the charity for children and young people with a lived experience of care across the region. Created in 1993 by a group of young people in care and the professionals that supported them, VOYPIC has almost 30 years of experience promoting the rights and voice of children in care and care leavers.
The book, which is available to download for free from the VOYPIC website- www.voypic.org- was written by young children, in partnership with local story-telling organisation, Still I Rise. It tells the story of Maya, a young girl living in care, and her mission to spread kindness through simple acts during her day.
The story features a range of different types of care experiences. It includes children living in foster families, with kinship families –their own extended families- and living in residential children’s homes. The characters and the families in the story reflect the diversity of the community, with children from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, with disabilities and special needs, and with different abilities and talents. Families featured include one-parent families, blended families, same-sex families, and multi-generational families.
“Representation is really important, especially for younger children,” commented Alicia Toal, Chief Executive of VOYPIC, speaking at the book’s official launch at Spruce Meadows, Lisburn, on 28 July.
“It’s essential that children can see themselves, through characters that have similar experiences to them, reflected in the stories they hear and the media they consume. The children have done an amazing job, creating a beautiful book that so lovingly puts children with experience of care front and centre, as the superheroes of the story.”
The book was created as part of VOYPIC’s See Me, Hear Me project, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. A group of children, all aged 12 years old or under, spent 12 weeks exploring different types of stories, with a different book read and discussed each week. From this, the children developed ideas for their story, the characters and the plot.
Due to the pandemic, the project had to be delivered online, with the stories read on screen by different guest readers each week.
Joseph, aged 11, took part in the project. He said:
“I really enjoyed meeting up on Zoom with other young people in care and getting to hear all the different stories read to us. There were lots of different types of stories, lots of adventures. They were all different, but they all were about being kind to others, even if they are different from you.
“When we started writing our story, we wanted the main character to be a superhero. Not with magic powers or to wear a cape and fly, but with the power to help people that she meets. Helping others, being kind to them and making them feel good- that is a superpower.”
The launch of the book is the first social action to come out of VOYPIC’s National Lottery Community Fund sponsored See Me Hear Me project. The project, which runs across Northern Ireland, supports young people with lived experience of care to undertake social action projects, aimed at raising awareness of care and helping children to make a difference in their own lives and that of those around them.
Alicia Toal continued:
“Social action gives young people the opportunities to explore their interests and hobbies, and allows them develop their skills in a supported way. Our project aims help children and young people to develop social awareness and a sense of belonging, and to strengthen their social bonds within their community. That might be the care-experienced community or their own local community.
“Social actions play a vital role in shaping the lives of the young people supported by VOYPIC, building confidence and empathy, and developing skills such as problem solving, interpersonal skills, networking and resilience.”
Download the book here.