Disability rights activist combines imagination and representation with new children’s book


Jamie Szymkowiak, founder of the One in Five campaign, launches book about the adventures of four disabled children

JAMIE SZYMKOWIAK, the writer, activist and founder of the One in Five Campaign, which aims increase political participation and representation of disabled people in Scotland, today launches the publication of his first children’s book, The Kelvinhill Kids Visit the Kelpies.

Szymkowiak was inspired to write the book by the lack of disabled representation in British public life, and decided that it should be a book that disabled children could relate to, as well as introducing non-disabled children to the issues surrounding disability.

“As a disabled person, the lack of representation of disabled people in public life is both a source of frustration and inspiration.” Writer and activist Jamie Szymkowiak

Published by Hoolet, The Kelvinhill Kids Visit the Kelpies is to be part of a series of picture books concerning a quartet of young disabled people with limb loss, sight loss, Down’s syndrome and Spina Bifida respectively.

Speaking ahead of the book’s launch, Szymkowiak said: “As a disabled person, the lack of representation of disabled people in public life is both a source of frustration and inspiration – so I am delighted that everyone can finally meet The Kelvinhill Kids.

“Of course, disabled people are not just lacking in children’s literature. Report after report finds that disabled people are underrepresented in politics, on TV, on radio and even in our places of work.

READ MORE: One in Five campaign hails creation of £200,000 fund for disabled candidates

“Last Christmas, I went looking for a book for my youngest brother, who has Down’s syndrome, and could not find a single picture book featuring a disabled main character.

“I was motivated me to write The Kelvinhill Kids as I think it’s extremely important for disabled children to have characters they can relate to. I also think The Kelvinhill Kids is useful way for parents to introduce disability to non-disabled children.”

Szymkowiak’s book uses Dyslexie, a font designed the be more readable to those with dyslexia.

READ MORE: Calls for disabled people on party boards to increase representation in Scots politics

In 2016, the One in Five’s campaign for disability officers on party boards, sponsored internships, and equalities training in Scottish politics and public life was backed by a motion in the Scottish Parliament, supported by a cross-party group of MSPs.

Picture courtesy of One in Five

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