(Contributed)

Keremeos children’s author aims to normalize disabilities with new book

Gus Gets Going tells the story of a boy who uses a wheelchair living life to the fullest

Keremeos resident and author Della Barrett is hoping to change the way people view children with disabilities through her new book Gus Gets Going.

Barrett’s son Joshua, now 30, was born with cerebral palsy. Until Joshua was six years old, he used a buggy for mobility.

Finding uplifting books and other media for her son, that viewed his disability in a positive light was a constant challenge, explained Barrett.

“All the books for children with disabilities were negative… so we wanted an upbeat one,” said Barrett.

She hopes Gus Gets Going will uplift other children with disabilities by showing them and along with all other kids that they are more than capable of enjoying childhood.

READ MORE: Keremeos artist spreading joy in uncertain times

The book, which was released, on Aug. 1, details the story of a young boy whose mobility was previously neglected by his preoccupied family on summer vacation. However, things turn around for young Gus the following summer when he’s given freedom by his new wheelchair, enabling him to play with other children on his own free will.

“This year he’s got freedom in his wheelchair. He can get himself up the ramp to play with the kids. He can get himself along the dock to go fishing. He can get himself to the beach even if his sister is flirting with the lifeguard,” Barrett said with a laugh.

Barrett, 64, has had many poems and short stories published in the past, but this is her first full-length children’s book to be published. She couldn’t be happier with the result.

Gus Gets Going was published by Kelowna based publishing group Cobalt Books.

The book, which is available for purchase at the Pharmasave in Keremeos, was inspired by Barrett’s experience raising her son. The book is also available for purchase on Amazon and will soon be available to rent across the Okanagan at Okanagan Regional Libraries.

Barrett also hopes the book to be found in school libraries across the Okanagan come September, but that will be dependent on COVID-19 and its impact on local schools.

The main thing Barrett hopes children and adults alike take away from the book is inclusion.

Barrett says she hopes the books encourage children to “see other kids in a wheelchair as no big deal… that it’s nothing to be scared of, or worry about.”

READ MORE: Mural adds artistic flair to downtown Keremeos



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

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