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.
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.
Most significant to date, in April 2012 a copy of Our Friend Mikayla was gifted to every public elementary school in Pennsylvania, thanks to generous grants from Walmart and Air Products which respectively afforded the printing and distribution of almost 1800 books across the state.
If you live in Pennsylvania and wish to help share the message of inclusion, call the principal at your local school and offer to come in to read Our Friend Mikayla to your child’s classroom. If you live outside our home state, please consider purchasing a copy of the book for donation to your local school(s) and/or libraries(s). Mikayla’s Voice continues to seek grants for the donation of these books to elementary schools. Anyone interested in statewide, regional, or national donation should contact us.
Order your copy of Our Friend Mikayla, and be sure to share it with all the kids in your life! $15/book