Volunteering experience led to publication of book
A 31-year-old disabled woman, from Bradwell, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, has published her first book thanks to the skills that she’s developed whilst volunteering for the Staffordshire based charity Caudwell Children.
Lisa Shardlow, a former Blackfriars School pupil, began volunteering for the charity over five years ago after her sister read about the charity in a local newspaper.
The charity initially offered Lisa a volunteering position in their administration department.
But when bosses at Caudwell Children discovered that Lisa had studied graphic design at Hereward College, in Coventry, she was immediately moved to the charity’s in-house design department.
“I’ve always been into art and I loved scribbling and drawing pictures as a young child,” said Lisa. “As my love of art and design grew I decided to study graphic design at college.
“After graduating I struggled to find employment in the industry, so to suddenly find myself working alongside professional designers was fantastic.”
Lisa, who volunteers two days a week for Caudwell Children, says that her five years of voluntary work has given her the opportunity to develop her graphic design skills. As she explained: “Each year Caudwell Children take 25 children with life limiting conditions to Disney World, in Florida.
“When they return to the UK each family receives a hardback memory book full of photographs detailing the trip.
“Since volunteering for the charity I’ve been heavily involved in the design of the book.
“Not only that I’ve designed posters for the charity’s annual Christmas Elf Run, helped to create social media assets and if anything needs to be redrawn, digitally, I’m the person who’ll do it.”
As a result of the confidence that she’s gained through her voluntary work Lisa, who has arthrogryposis, a condition that causes multiple curved joints and leads to muscle weakness, decided to write an illustrated book about disability for young children.
“I was watching my 2-year-old niece reading a picture book,” enthused Lisa. “And I suddenly thought, I could do that!”
Having researched the market Lisa found that there were few books for young children that covered this topic in a positive way, so she set about writing and illustrating Lyla and her Wheelchair.
“Lyla is just like everyone else, except that she uses a wheelchair and has to do things a little differently to her friends,” explained Lisa. “The character will help to teach readers that being in a wheelchair doesn’t make a disabled child any different than other children.
“They like and want just the same things as everyone else.”
Lisa based the story on her own experiences as a five year old and she hopes that the book can raise awareness of disability amongst young children. “I hope that the book can capture the imagination of non-disabled children and inspire those who do have a disability,” said Lisa. “I want them to understand that they can do whatever they want to do, that they don’t need to hold back, they should just go for it!”
Lisa, an avid bookworm, film buff and history lover, is already considering her next book. “I love the author Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander time travel series,” said Lisa. “I’m also a big fan of Rocky, not for the boxing but for the commitment, dedication and determination to succeed that’s shown in the film.
“I also like reading non-fiction and I particularly like reading about the Tudors, so perhaps I could incorporate all these themes into my next book.”
Mark Bushell, from Caudwell Children, says the book will make an ideal Christmas gift. As he explained: “It’s absolutely fantastic that the skills that Lisa has developed, whilst volunteering for Caudwell Children, has resulted in this wonderful, 26 page, paperback book.
“It’s beautifully illustrated, with such a heart-warming story, that I’m sure any child would be delighted to find it in their Christmas stocking.”
You can purchase Lily and her Wheelchair for £5.99 through Amazon and a gift-wrapping service is available.
You can find out about Volunteering for Caudwell Children here.