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 but the rewards made it worth every second. As a teacher, I was used to a gazillion apps, supply stores, resources, books, and websites that I could cherry pick to support my work. So naturally when I entered the foster care world, I started digging around trying to find resources that I could use and share with colleagues. After a few months of searching , there were resources here and there but I hadn't found what I was looking for. Child centred resources were limited and most had a real 'checklist' feel about them. I knew from my teaching experience, books and resources complemented my work everyday . Anything ever worth publishing on supporting children that had experienced trauma pointed to building valued and trusted relationships, therapy, art, music, dance, mindfulness and building relationships! It made sense. Surely there were hundreds of resources and programs to support?
SO MY HUSBAND SAID: " Well, why don't you design what you are looking for? Simple."..... Of course it wasn't simple.
THE CRITERIA: 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. I could do this...
FAST FORWARD: a psychology degree later, several child trauma conferences with the likes of Dan Hughes, Dan Siegel and Bruce Perry, a few thousand pod casts, a year working with graphic designers and a leap of faith- 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, pause, reflect on their thoughts, 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.