A special blog post from Little Voice’s illustrator Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor
The 2017 launch of LVB’s newest book The Lighthouse has enabled me to explore my own journey with mental illness and to share it with others. Sharing my struggle was not always easy; in my first attempt at opening up on our blog I couldn’t help but feel vulnerable and exposed. Looking back, I am proud of how far I’ve come in my recovery and how much my life has changed for the better. With that said, I don’t want my story to be the focus of my advocacy work in support of mental health, but rather the enabler to amplify the conversation, particularly as it relates to eating disorders.
And so, I once more take pen to pad in an effort to promote Eating Disorder Awareness Week in Canada, which is taking place from February 1st to 7th. This year’s theme is One Size DOESN’T Fit All – a theme I not only relate to but commend. You see, when we often think of mental health, and even eating disorders, we begin to classify people – we try to fit people in boxes, boxes with labels. This year’s campaign recognizes that eating disorders affect people of all sizes, genders, races, sexual orientation and socio-economic backgrounds.
Did you know refugees have been part of Canada’s cultural mosaic since before Confederation? Consecutive waves of refugees have helped build modern Canada, starting with the Quakers and Black Loyalists that fled the American Revolution in the 1770s, followed by Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, Chilean, Bengali, Indochinese, Kosovar, Karen, Bhutanese, Iraqi and, most recently, Syrian refugees, among others.
In 2016, approximately 46,000 refugees arrived in Canada in search for a better life. According to Immigrant, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, many refugees will need more support in areas such as housing, employment, language training, and mental health/well-being.
Little Voice is proud to support ProjectBE and our newest movement that will support refugee resettlement!
The ProjectBE Movement is supporting refugee settlement efforts through three focus areas:
Employment and professional development
Vulnerable groups: youth, women, the elderly and LGBTQ+ refugees
A portion of each book sale using the coupon code “projectbe” will be donated to ProjectBE’s fundraising efforts!
By using the coupon code “projectbe” at checkout, Little Voice will donate $5 from each book sale to ProjectBE’s crowdfunding campaign. In addition, for those readers located in the National Capital Region, free pick-up is available upon request – please contact Little Voice for more information.
By working with our new friends and neighbours, we have an opportunity to strengthen our diversity and build health and inclusive communities for generations to come!
Donate today and BE the difference in your community!
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.
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.
For the past two years, readers have asked the Little Voice team when the next Little Voice book could be expected.
To be honest, for a long time, I did not know. I knew what the Little Voice series would look like but hadn’t put pen to pad in a long time. I guess you could say I had a major case of writer’s block. When I first set out to create Little Voice, I knew I wanted to create a publishing company that would utilize literature as a means of creating awareness while giving back to my community. The next Little Voice book had to fill this criteria in order for the writing to truly flow. I always refer to the first Little Voice book as the general mantra of what Little Voice is all about. The series that would follow would be more specific, tackling important issues that face the next generation.
– Amanda Bernardo, Author
And so, today on January 25, 2017, to coincide with #BellLetsTalk, the Little Voice team is finally ready to announce their next book. Together, with the talents of Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor and the writing by Amanda Bernardo, the Little Voice team will be launching Book #2 as the official start to the Little Voice Series.
The next Little Voice book will focus on mental health and will serve as a tool to educate children and as a means to help end the stigma.
Mental illness is something Little Voice has advocated for in creating awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, in Samantha’s own story with an eating disorder, and Amanda’s struggles with anxiety. The reality is, we are all impacted by our mental health. For some, it takes major moments in life to recognize that help is needed, while others continue to suffer in silence in fear of being judged. This needs to end.
By creating this new book on mental health, Little Voice hopes to continue to support conversations like #BellLetsTalk while inspiring children everywhere to break the silence and seek support if needed. By sharing our stories, we realize that we are not alone and that our mental health is something that is always worth prioritizing.
We look forward to keeping you updated on our future plans for Book #2 and hope to share an official title with you soon. Stay tuned and until then, please take part in today’s #BellLetsTalk.
Every time you talk, text and join in on social media on January 25, Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives.
A special blog post from Little Voice’s illustrator Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor.
Did you know that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness? Coming from someone who has suffered from one, I am saddened by this statistic but not surprised.
My own journey with an eating disorder, which you can read about here, left me depleted, emotionally unstable and trapped for years. In 2016, I managed to seek recovery for the first time. Through therapy, coping techniques and various resources, I am proud to say that I have been able to stay on the recovery path. I had to gain much needed weight but more importantly, had to work on the emotional side of things in order to find food freedom, and self-love.
This Christmas Little Voice is extremely excited to support a local initiative that is working towards bringing a smile to every child’s face in Ottawa on Christmas morning!
Each year, Toy Mountain and the Salvation Army provide toys to over 20,000 children. This year, the goal is to leave no child in Ottawa without a gift to open on Christmas morning. By supporting the Toy Mountain Movement, you are helping children have a magical Christmas by not only donating a copy of Little Voice/La petite voix but also by contributing $5 from every book sale to the campaign!
The Little Voice Movement is a way for us to use our platform to give back to our community and country. With every book sale, Little Voice donates $5 towards any give cause or charity. With Toy Mountain, we’re asking you to use the coupon code below to purchase a book that will be donated to a child this Christmas.
Every book that is purchased using the coupon code “toymountain” will not only be donated to this incredible cause but Little Voice will also donate $5 from each book sale to support the Toy Mountain in reaching their goal of giving every child in Ottawa a gift this Christmas.
This October, Little Voice was nominated for the Ottawa Social Impact Awards!
The Ottawa Social Impact Awards are recognizing and celebrating the leaders in our community who are making a positive social impact through innovative, collaborative, and scalable initiatives and enterprises. A partnership between Impact Hub Ottawa and the City of Ottawa, the inaugural Awards seek to:
- Highlight Ottawa-based community initiatives and social enterprises that have significant potential for growth and lasting impact;
- Emphasize the power of the collective rather than the individual; and
- Recognize social innovation in our community that is turning the status quo upside down.
Today, Little Voice is very excited to not only share this nomination with all of you but a special feature with CBC Ottawa on Our #Ottawa.
This interview certainly helped both Samantha and I realize how far we’ve come and how much farther we want to go. What started as a simple poem on a scrap piece of paper has involved into a social enterprise I am so proud to have created with Samantha. We are continuously motivated by your feedback and involvement with our platform and hope to continue to inspire you as our movement and vision grows.
– Amanda Bernardo, Author
“We wanted kids to feel like they belong, for them to have a book that they could relate to. When you have a kid that feels inspired it’s really rewarding to think that we created something that sparked that inspiration within them.”
It was an amazing experience to be featured with CBC Ottawa and we are very excited to share the final product today with all of you! Special thank you to CBC for also highlighting our nomination in the upcoming Ottawa Social Impact Awards! Please vote for Little Voice by visiting http://ottawa.impacthub.net/ci…/ottawa-social-impact-awards/ to help us grow our platform, voting ends November 4, 2016!
You can now watch our full feature on #OurOttawa here: http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/796499011649
Today marks the 2016 International Day of the Girl!
Girls and women belong in the seats of classrooms, boardrooms, courtrooms, and press rooms. They belong on the playing field, in the director’s chair, everywhere decisions are made, and anywhere else they choose.
With today’s inspiring day coming to an end, Little Voice wanted to share a short story with you to remind every little girl that anything is possible!
When I first set out to publish Little Voice, I was rejected by publishers and ignored by literary agents. I almost gave up on a goal I always hoped to accomplish because I was made to believe that I did not have what it takes to publish my story. While I had dared to dream big, I quickly saw that society sometimes automatically makes women and young girls shrink their ideas in fear of failure. I decided to push fear aside and chase after my dream regardless of the odds placed before me. Two years later, I have not only surpassed my expectations for Little Voice but I have created a movement that inspires others and supports my community. What a lot people don’t know is that I am not only an author but also a public servant. While I continue to pursue Little Voice on evenings and weekends, and everywhere in between, I am also pursuing a career in government. I believe that young girls and women have the right to decide for themselves where they belong – in government or anywhere else. I have worked extremely hard to become a leader not only in my community, not only in the charities I support, but also within the Government of Canada. I hope to serve as an example to many young girls all across our country, from coast to coast to coast, that women can be exceptional leaders. I am thankful to know many women who have mentored me and supported my growth in and outside of government. Together, we can lift each other up and show the world that #GirlsBelongHere! There may not be enough examples of women in leadership, women in politics, women CEOs, etc… but that should never stop you from filling that void. Be a trailblazer and show the rest of the world why women can and will make a difference!- Amanda Bernardo
“Each generation of women has a responsibility to the next one. What we do pass on has an impact on generations of women to come. Let’s make sure we pass on rights of equality, strength and quality. The current generation of young women seem to able to do just that and much more!”
Learn how you can get involved with #BecauseIamAGirl by visiting Plan International Canada today!
When you rally behind a girl the whole world wins!
Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay; a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy!
This years’s theme Dignity in Mental Health-Psychological & Mental Health First Aid for All will enable us to contribute to the goal of taking mental health out of the shadows so that people in general feel more confident in tackling the stigma, isolation and discrimination that continues to plague people with mental health conditions, their families and careers.