THE BACK STORY: My career in Education and Out of Home Care, found me working alongside incredible people supporting children and families through bumpy times. The hours were long, most situations were complicated and complex. As a teacher, I was used to a gazillion apps, supply stores, resources, books, and websites to support my work and I knew that we are wired as humans to resonate with stories.
When I entered the foster care world, I looked to find resources that I could use and share with colleagues. I found a few resources here and there but I hadn't found much targeted for 10-17 year olds. Most had a real 'checklist' formal feel about them.
Research supporting children that had experienced trauma commonly pointed to building valued and trusted relationships, therapy, art, music, dance, mindfulness and building relationships. It made sense. There were lots of great programs out there doing but where were the resources to support them?
Agencies were stretched, families moved around, caseworkers needed documentation and they had to meet accreditation.Kids needed art, music, dance, connection, a sense of belonging, something they could own and something that engaged them. It needed to be strength based, contemporary, grounded in neuro science... oh and have a relaxed feel so kids would write, draw and make it their own.
FAST FORWARD: After year working with graphic designers I PUBLISHED UNTWIST.
Littered through out UNTWIST are images and text to prompt a young person to identify and think about the things that make them feel good and focus on positive aspects of their life.
Long time foster carer Kathleen commented, " I've been looking after Foster kids for over 20 years. I learnt so much about a child that recently moved into our family by sitting down and doing this little book with them. I haven't seen anything like this before".
Casework Manager Kim shared, " All my caseworkers have a copy of this book. It complements our current procedures and really supports their work. We use it when new children become part of their caseload or provide it to experienced carers. It really helps steer conversations and get kids talking. My team photograph completed pages to file for accreditation".
The research and life stories are there. We know relationships can make the difference. UNTWIST is designed to offer a contemporary and non-confrontational way to start a conversation and make a connection.