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Campaign aims to reduce negative disability stereotypes

04 March 2013

Campaign aims to reduce negative disability stereotypes

You know how kids stare at people in wheelchairs and aren’t sure what to say? Diversityworks Trust wants to change that.

"We want kids to run up to people in wheelchairs and say, 'Wow! You must be a superhero!”' says Trust Executive Director and co-author of “My Friend is a Superhero”, Philip Patston.

Published by Diversityworks Trust, "My Friend is a Superhero!" is a children’s book about Jack, who uses a wheelchair, told by his friend, who sees all the amazing things Jack can do — like getting to school sitting down, playing basketball and doing tricks at the skate park. Jack’s also really good at maths.

Co-written by Barbara Pike (Patston's PA), and illustrated by Sam Orchard, the book’s purpose is to influence children (and their parents) away from negative stereotypes, as well as portraying unique aspects of function and experience to encourage children’s natural curiosity.

"The book's reading age is around 7-9 years, but we believe it would suit children aged 3-10 years and possibly older as a discussion starter about diversity," says Patston.

A PledgeMe campaign aims to raise $3500 to print 1000 copies of "My Friend Is A Superhero". Duffy Books in Homes have agreed to distribute 500 of these to lower-decile schools throughout New Zealand.

Duffy Books in Homes provides free books to children from decile one, two and three schools. Children in these schools are more likely to come from homes which have limited or no access to books. Children who can’t read become adults who can’t communicate and that’s a serious disadvantage in a world that operates on the written word.

Duffy provides free books to over 100,000 New Zealand children, three times a year, across 500 schools. This includes books for school libraries as well as copies that kids can take home and keep.

The rest of the books will be available as rewards and for sale. Any profit from sales will go towards a further reprint of the book.

For more information and to pledge visit


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