Today is not only World Mental Health Day, but the official launch of our new book The Lighthouse.
When we set out to create our newest book, we thought long and hard about not only the months of work ahead, but the day in which we hoped to release it to the world. It was October 2016, and Little Voice’s author Amanda Bernardo had just come back from attending One Young World. After nearly two years of being asked when the next Little Voice Book would be published, Amanda finally had her answer.
At One Young World, Amanda made a pledge to herself, a pledge to create a book that would support the conversation around mental health. It was not only a pledge to herself, but also a pledge to her business partner Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor. For many months, the two had discussed creating a new book. While the drive to do so was there, the Little Voice team was just bouncing back from an emotional whirlwind that required them both to focus on their own mental health. These personal journeys in many ways equipped them with the empathy and creativity needed to create The Lighthouse. And so, they channelled their inner pain, their outward struggle, and the drive to make a difference in their community to produce the very book you can now hold in your hands today.
Today is the last day to preorder your copy of The Lighthouse and the first day I get to hold our books in hand!
It always amazes me how after a year of hard work and preparation, this moment of holding our book for the very first time can sum it all up. It’s the moment where our little voices go: we did it!
Behind the scenes, we have been working day and night to bring this book to life. We’ve reached out to mental health organizations and advocates to ensure our message was sustainable; we’ve spent hours planning our marketing efforts and writing articles to create awareness; we’ve even opened up about our challenges with mental health to remind you that we all have experienced moments like the ones depicted in our book, or at least know someone who has. And we’re still continuing to try and do so much more.
A lot of people wonder why we do it. Samantha and I, as many of you know, both work full-time and juggle Little Voice Books at the side of our desks. We don’t profit from our efforts, and we give back almost all the proceeds from our books to our community. It raises a lot of eyebrows when we tell people how much work we put into this social enterprise and how much of our proceeds we give to others instead of ourselves.
For Samantha and I, it’s not about the extra dollar in our pocket; it’s about using the talents we’ve been given to make a difference. It’s about raising awareness for causes and initiatives, and conversations that may sometimes be challenging to discuss. It’s about reminding the six year old that they can become anything they want to be so long as they believe in themselves. Or even the 24 year old who is struggling to find their path. It’s about seeing our donations make a difference in our communities and across Canada, seeing how your support has enabled us to do much more than publish a children’s book, but also fund a program or service that will go a long way in making a difference in many more lives.
There are truly some things in the world that money can’t buy, and the feeling of all of the above is something that is worth far more than any dollar could provide. It’s a lasting legacy of good, of kindness, of hope and inspiration. It’s something we need a lot more of in the world right now and if our tiny books can achieve that, then to us, it is totally worth it.
You can still preorder your book by visiting http://www.littlevoicebooks.com. Orders will be shipped on October 10, 2017. Following our official launch on World Mental Health Day, books will be available online and at a number of local Ottawa Chapters as of the October 14th weekend.
As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), we wanted to continue to answer the Campaign’s call to action to share our stories in support of mental health!
On today’s blog, Little Voice’s illustrator Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor opens up and shares her own personal story:
I have always been a sensitive and anxious kid. From time to time, life would challenge me and this truth would be easily apparent. From public speaking, going to a new school, or even dealing with a death in the family, I often struggled silently to cope with my emotions. This struggle eventually transformed into a difficult journey with my own body image and food.
This year’s MIAW encourages Canadians to join the conversation about mental illness online using the hashtag #miaw17. As mental illness affects more than six million people across the country, the campaign encourages Canadians to share personal stories and engage in a discussion regarding the need for increased access to mental health services for all Canadians.
As part of MIAW, Little Voice’s author wanted to share her story with anxiety.
After months in development, Little Voice is extremely excited to launch the preorder for our upcoming children’s book The Lighthouse!
The Lighthouse is a story that aims to educate, support, and remind all those affected by mental illness that they are not alone. Through the power of literature and illustration, this open, honest and brave story supports all those who may be suffering in silence by breaking the very stigma that holds them hostage. Developed as a tool by mental health advocates Amanda Bernardo and Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor, The Lighthouse teaches children, and adults alike, to understand, listen and talk about mental health.
The story serves as a symbolic reminder of the support, strength and hope that is represented by the lighthouse, and aims to teach its readers to become a beacon of light in their own communities.
Preorder your copy and be the first to receive The Lighthouse this October in anticipation of our official launch on World Mental Health Day!
World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.
The Day provides an opportunity for all those working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
All preordered copies of The Lighthouse will include a free bookmark and be will be signed by the Little Voice team. Deliveries will occur in advance of our official launch.
Don’t forget that a portion of every book sale will also be donated in support of the National Canadian Mental Health Association through our new Be The Light Campaign!
With Canada 150 just around the corner, we wanted to take a moment to say
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA!
We are so proud to be an all Canadian children’s book – written, illustrated and printed right here in the country we call home.
To us, being Canadian means more than just identifying with the country we live in; it’s a symbol of who we are and who we hope our children will become. Canadians are humble, kind, respectful, loving and diverse, we are a melting pot of so many amazing attributes of humanity that we can’t help but smile when we say: I am Canadian.
Here at Little Voice, we are so proud to be Canadian and we can’t wait to share our new story The Lighthouse with all of you as our #Canada150 gift to you! Stay tuned!
With the launch of the Lighthouse only four months away, we wanted to share a first glimpse at our newest book!
You heard right! Little Voice’s newest book The Lighthouse is targeting a release date for this October! Can you guess why? On October 10, 2017, the world will be raising awareness for mental health as part of World Mental Health Day and we want to join in!
As many of you know, The Lighthouse is a story that will support children and adults alike in raising awareness for mental health, but it is also a story we hope will shine the light on the stories, situations, and people that often struggle alone in silence. Where one reader can relate to the feelings shared in our book, we hope the other will learn to recognize the signs of a friend in need and in turn, become the lighthouse that reminds them that they are not alone.
With our countdown officially on for the launch of The Lighthouse we are excited to share a sneak peek of our newest characters and the story that we are so proud to share with all of our readers.
Stay tuned for the launch of our pre-order this upcoming August and be the first to reserve your copy! This journey has already transformed the way the Little Voice team thinks, talks, and reacts to mental health … we hope it will have the same powerful impact on you.
This past January, Little Voice was very excited to announce their latest children’s book that would focus on mental health. The decision was a no brainer and instantly became a powerful journey for both author Amanda Bernardo and illustrator Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor.
For many years, Amanda has been an advocate for mental health. She has fought to create awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and has, more recently, opened up about her personal struggle with anxiety.
I have never really opened up about my anxiety. I never wanted to appear weak, I never wanted to feel judged, and I never wanted to have it define who I was or who I could become. Anxiety can be something different for everyone. I never got anxious about work or deadlines, or speaking in front of large crowds; instead, the smallest of details that for many would seem insignificant would replay over and over and over again, until I would feel sick. I hated how certain thoughts could sometimes keep me up all night or even worse, trigger a panic attack. I hated it because I couldn’t control it and if I couldn’t be in control of my anxiety, then a part of me felt like I wasn’t in control of my life. Over the years, I have learned to deal with my anxiety. I guess in many ways I started trying to drown out the thoughts that would make me sick and instead focus on the little voice that inspired me to live life to the fullest. I am extremely proud to be launching this next book in the Little Voice series not only because of how close to home it hits, but because I know it will serve as an important tool to truly start a conversation around mental health. This is our little way of breaking the stigma, but more importantly, our big way of reminding all those suffering from mental illness that they are not alone.
– Amanda Bernardo, Author
This past June, Samantha shared her story for the very first time publicly in a three part series titled Aftertaste. The short series shared Samantha’s journey with an eating disorder and served as the beginning to her own advocacy work towards mental health.
Having struggled not only with a mental illness, but also the fear of sharing my story with others, I know how difficult it can be to share parts of you that for many years you even hid from yourself. As I shared in my short series Aftertaste, I was scared to seek help, I was scared to open up, and I was scared of what others may say when I finally had the courage to say “I have an eating disorder.” I had to first find it in myself to be okay before I could begin to be okay with others. Sometimes those first steps can be the hardest and the scariest but what I learned in sharing my story is that we are not alone. We are each fighting our own battles every single day, but if we do not open up and share out stories with others, we will only continue to let the stigma define us. I am so excited for this next book in the Little Voice series and hope that my art, accompanied by Amanda’s poetry, will serve as an important tool that I only wish I had growing up. This will no doubt be one of the most powerful projects I have ever had the privilege of working on and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.
– Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor, Illustrator
Today, Little Voice is extremely excited to share with you the cover of our newest book: The Lighthouse.
We are also very excited to announce that a portion of every book sale will be donated in support of the National Canadian Mental Health Association. We hope that our newest children’s book will not only start an important conversation around mental health but that it will also support the programs and services that help to build resilience and support recovery from mental illness in communities across Canada.
Over the next few months we will be working to finalize The Lighthouse and will be sharing updates on how you can pre-order your very own copy. Please continue to follow our journey until then!
A special blog post written by Little Voice’s author Amanda Bernardo in support of Little Voice’s 2017 Walk for Alzheimers.
I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be involved with the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County. I have accomplished a lot in my life thus far, but there is no joy or pride greater than my efforts in supporting and creating awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. – Amanda Bernardo
When I was eleven years old, my grandmother travelled from Italy to Canada for the very first time. It was at the tender age of eleven that I also learned about Alzheimer’s disease for the very first time.
My grandmother, Teresina Bernardo, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1995 and at the age of sixty-six. A few years later, she came to Canada for the very first time. At this early stage in the disease, the signs were evident but not alarming. I remember her often repeating the same questions over and over again but I was still too young to understand the full impacts of the disease. It wasn’t until our own trips back to Italy that I began to see how much this disease could deteriorate someone.
A lot of children grow up fearing spiders or heights, but from a young age I feared what could one day be my own inevitable fate.
As the years passed, I slowly lost my grandmother. The disease began as a form of forgetfulness but evolved into something no words can describe. My grandmother is now eighty-eight years old and has been “living” with this disease for over 20 years. Now, in the late stages of this disease, she is no longer able to communicate or look after herself. Living oceans apart from one another, Alzheimer’s disease ultimately stripped me from a relationship with my grandmother.
I’ve known Alzheimer’s disease for a very long time and truthfully, for many years, I wasn’t able to talk about my experiences, or my fears, without tears falling from my face. Even today, I still struggle to share my story but I realized a long time ago that without talking about this disease, without fundraising behind it, without supporting the men and women who volunteer day in and day out to make a difference, nothing would change.
I only wish I was able to share this with my grandmother but I know deep down inside she is proud of me and all that I have accomplished in her name.
I truly appreciate the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County’s recognition of my efforts; I will forever be a part of this lifelong fight for a cure and will continue to support organizations like this that do wonders to support the families affected by this disease.
Being a part of this movement and community is something I will truly cherish forever.
I hope you will join us on Saturday, May 13, 2017 as we walk for all those in our community, our country and the world who continue to battle with Alzheimer’s disease, for the families who become full-time caregivers, and to the Alzheimer Society who continues to offer programs and services that help to make a difference in the lives of all those affected by this disease.