Tag Archives: neurodiversity

CYccHgDWQAA2La4.jpg-large

The Great Kindness Challenge Is Two Weeks Away!

CYccHgDWQAA2La4.jpg-largeAs a children’s author, the primary goal of my work is to celebrate neurodiversity by empowering kids to use their superpowers for the greater good. One of the most exciting ways I have been able to do that is through my work with the Kids for Peace Great Kindness Challenge.

The Great Kindness Challenge is a HUGE kindness initiative (over 4 million students!) that inspires kids to do as many kind acts as possible during the last week in January. It is amazing to see the effects of this program on school climate. Teachers report that the very cultures of their schools undergo profound, lasting shifts toward benevolence. The environments become much safer for our kids, where everyone is allowed to shine in their own way.

As an adult on the autism spectrum, last year I was so moved by how powerful and brave some children on the spectrum were during the challenge, that I felt moved to celebrate them by featuring them in an article. They took some of those tired, untrue stereotypes regarding autistic empathy and turned them upside down by letting their beautiful empathy propel them into action.

I absolutely loved seeing this opportunity for kids to be safe enough to let their altruism shine. In many cities, they were supported not only by their schools, but by their police forces, firefighters, mayors, and in some cases, state senators.

It’s a powerful, powerful movement. It’s entirely free, very easy to implement, and is absolutely the direction in which I love to see our culture shift. I am so proud to sponsor it.

If you are interested in participating in The Great Kindness Challenge at your school or in the community, do check it out!

IMG_6958

Michigan School Visit Tour: Celebrating Your Superpowers to Make the World a Better Place

IMG_6958I had such a great time last week in Michigan on a school visit tour. Though never stated in the text, my Super Lexi chapter books are set in Michigan, where I spent my own childhood. I have such a deep love for the people and the state itself, I include it in the backdrop of most of my fiction. It was so comforting to be back.

The focus of my elementary school visits is to celebrate neurodiversity by empowering kids to use their diverse gifts for the greater good. In my assemblies, I work to illustrate how all people have value, and how we are unique for a reason.

Then, we get into the fun part: we brainstorm ways to discover our gifts by following what we love, and we hammer out easy ways we can apply those passions for the greater good. Last week, I challenged the kids to organize their thoughts on a bookmark that I provided, and to take action that day.

Bookmark

The kids had the most amazing suggestions, including:

  • Start a book club
  • Sell homemade baked goods for a charity
  • Cook food and donate it to a homeless shelter
  • Invite a new student over to play video games
  • Donate old video games to a younger child or a child in need
  • Play soccer with a younger child
  • Walk a neighbor’s dog

I love seeing them light up when they discuss the magic that is already in them.

If you’re interested in an author visit, please email me at emma@emmalesko.com!

image

International Day of Peace with Unity for Orphans

imageLast week, I visited an orphanage in Mexico with Unity 4 Orphans as my contribution to the United Nation’s International Day of Peace. I was a little reluctant to jump in on a high-energy Soccer Day event, as I tend to gravitate to quieter activities. Fortunately, the needs of the soccer field were more than covered, and I was able to hide out with the kids who had more of a literary and artistic bent.

It was then that I discovered the immense amount of creativity these kids had with very few materials for creative outlet. As always, I go into my work with children with the intention of celebrating neurodiversity to help kids access their own superpowers. It was amazing to me how visible the superpowers of these children were.

Many of the girls were very excited to braid my hair. They were young, so of course I expected some sloppy braids and maybe a few knots. Imagine my surprise when one of the girls took a picture of her work for me, and I saw this:

IMG_6631

Additionally, we had brought some Play Dough down with us, and I was amazed at the sophistication of the artistic expression.

IMG_6650

I have a firm belief that we are all born with superpowers to make the world a better place, and that we discover them by following what we love. These kids can make beauty out of almost nothing. As a creative myself, I am so excited to get back down there and do what I can to support these kids in pursuing their natural-born passions.

If you are interested in sending art, books, or writing supplies, please email me at emma@emmalesko.com and I will stuff them into my backpack or suitcase on future trips. Or, if you would like to get involved yourself, reach out to Unity 4 Orphans here!

Vonnegut

Big Week for Chapter Book Super Lexi!

Lots of activity with my chapter book Super Lexi this week!

The awesome tweets.

The awesome tweets.

First, investigative reporter from Wired magazine and esteemed supporter of the neurodiversity movement Steve Silberman tweeted kind words about Super Lexi. Needless to say, it made my day, because Steve Silberman is awesome.

Next, I began my long overdue journey on Goodreads! Who knew that was such a spectacular place? I can make friends who are only interested in talking about books? I can’t think of any thing more fun. Come find me. I”ll be thrilled to talk about nothing but books with you.

Click to find me!

Click to find me!

My Facebook page is happy!

My Facebook page is happy!

And finally, I am profoundly grateful that my Facebook page now has more than 2000 followers. The support has been overwhelming!

As many of you know by now, I have a phobia of eyeballs staring at me. Going public with Super Lexi was out of character for me, but I it did anyway in the hopes that I would figure out a way to survive it.

This is why I cling to an old quote my dear friend Kurt Vonnegut used to say (kidding, he was not my dear friend, though I’m certain my life would have been complete if he had been):

Vonnegut

Thanks to all of you, there’s hope for my wings yet!