Our Friend Mikayla
Through their book, Mikayla’s friends let other children know its okay to be afraid when you first meet someone with a disability, but “there is nothing to be scared of.” Written and illustrated by Mikayla’s third-grade classmates, Our Friend Mikayla was first published in 2006 and is a valuable tool for teachers and parents who wish to help kids who may be afraid or intimidated upon meeting a disabled child in their school or community. It is an honest and beautiful story about friendship that should be shared with children of all ages.
The subject of the book is our organization’s name-sake and inspiration, Mikayla. Despite being born with a profound brain injury resulting in multiple disabilities and numerous medical conditions, Mikayla has been fully included with non-disabled peers her schools and community. Next year she will be a junior at Nazareth Area High School, from which she will graduate with the authors of her book with whom she has attended school since the first grade.
Motivated by Mikayla’s inclusion and the success of Our Friend Mikayla, Mikayla’s Voice was founded by Mikayla’s friends and family. The positive response the book has received is confirmation of children’s understanding, limitless compassion and their unique ability to share an important message with other kids of all ages and abilities. Mikayla has inspired, and her friends have written and illustrated, a book that is now being read all over the world. Our Friend Mikayla has enjoyed much success, including but not limited to:
- The initial print run of 3,000 copies was funded by $12,500 and $2,000 grants, respectively, given The National Inclusion Project and the Nazareth Area Blue Eagle Education Association.
- Shared on Larry King Live by Clay Aiken.
- Chosen by the first lady of Wisconsin for her Read On Wisconsin online book club.
- A copy was donated to every school district in Tennessee by the grandfather of a child with special needs.
- The Arc of Northeast Pennsylvania received a $10,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council to share the book and its message with every third grade student in the Scranton and North Pocono School Districts.
- Purchased by Include Me from the Start (an inclusive initiative of The Arc of PA endorsed and funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education) for each child in the program.
- Book project was presented at the National Convention of The Arc of the United States in Orlando, Florida in November 2010.
- Also presented at the First Inclusion Conference presented by the Pennsylvania’s Education for All Coalition at Penn’s Landing this November 2011.