My First Kickstarter!

I want to start off by saying it is my belief and firm conviction that all children can learn — if they are having fun.

With that philosophy, I’m launching my first Kickstarter, early next year. I’ve been thinking about this wonderful crowd-sourcing platform for some time — not to launch a new tech toy — but more from a heartfelt need to work with students in my field — special education.

I’m going to produce a book I wrote with the help of my mother. It’s a picture book that teaches social skills called, “The Happy Little Garbage Truck.”

We first wrote the book because one of my students loved garbage trucks. However, there wasn’t a book on the market that taught social skills in a fun, watchable way.

And before I go any further, let me add that this child was smart! He could smell teachie, pedagogically, didactic methods from a mile away. I needed something that would capture his imagination without causing him to shy away from the concepts being taught.

I really felt this child was very unique. Teaching him the skills he needed that would help him to navigate through life became a priority in his educational plan. These skills included speaking up for himself, following directions, listening/attending to the teacher, turn-taking in playing games and in conversation.

Engaging him wasn’t easy. But this child loved, I mean loved garbage trucks — so garbage trucks it had to be! My mother encouraged me to write the book and the endearing story became, “The Happy Little Garbage Truck.” The book that introduced the little garbage truck and promoted self-esteem.

Which leads to Kickstarter. Why Kickstarter?

We started the book in 2004. Kickstarter began in 2009. But the campaign may not have started if it weren’t for a single incident that happened this summer.

I got together with the parent of the boy who loved garbage trucks, recently. We had been in touch over the years and the child is now a teenager.

In the course of a Meerkat streaming conversation that my sister, Lydia (Living Chic) Mattison was leading on the topic of Autism, the child’s parent mentioned that her son’s growth had a lot to do with the social skills he gained that made school fun for him.

He actually didn’t have a great opinion about school until he entered kindergarten. He had fun (of course) in my class and was enthused to come to school everyday.

This led me to think, if I published The Happy Little Garbage Truck book — and not just the book, but a series of books, games, and curriculum of how to use them — other children might benefit from this story in the same way.

Now, this is the end of the year. It’s a great time for reflection. I consider this an even better time than most, for me: I’m transitioning from teaching and to a fulltime career of writing.

Little did I know, back in 1976 that both Special Education and I were about to hit a fantastic, new trajectory. I chose the field of special education when I arrived at Wayne State University. One of my professors promoted special education with a passion I hadn’t witnessed at any time prior to stepping foot into his class.

This professor highlighted the news that special education had just turned a corner to begin a pivotal point in our nation’s history. A new law had been passed. This law would provide children with special needs equal educational rights — Public Law 94–142.

My focus and intent, for all of my 29 years in teaching was to excel in two areas: the first, was to give my students the best educational services I could deliver. They deserved the best even more so as they needed the support to help them bridge their special needs.

The second area was to find the most innovative, fun ways to motivate my students to learn. This Kickstarter campaign is the first step taken in expanding my plan and making good on my original promise, 29 years ago!

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