CHICAGO (CBS) — Two longtime friends are collaborating again – creating another book full of life lessons for young people.
As CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos reported, this latest book shows friends come in all shapes, sizes, and colors – even pink.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Slight Chance Of Storms Overnight; A Quiet Pattern To Come
“I love to tell stories, and as a teacher, I’ve used storytelling often as a method to teach,” said Jim Boland.
Boland knows the power of words. He has just written his third book, “Lilly and the Pink Leprechaun.”
It shows how we can all be friends even though we’re not the same.
Boland’s buddy, Rich Flatley, contributed the illustrations.
The main character is modeled after Boland’s granddaughter, Lilly, who didn’t want to wear glasses years ago because they made her feel “different.”
“Lilly started wearing glasses when she was only about 4 or 5 years old,” Boland said. “She didn’t want to wear glasses. She fought her mom on wearing glasses.”
Lilly suggested the story – and is now wearing her glasses without complaint.
Boland has donated royalties from other books to organizations that help people. Flatley had the idea for this one – he suggested the money go to Gigi’s Playhouse, which serves kids with Down syndrome and their families.
It is a place that is dear to Flatley, because his granddaughter, Caitlin, has Down syndrome – and Gigi’s is special to her.READ MORE: At Least 2 People Killed, 32 Wounded In Gun Violence In Chicago So Far This Weekend
“I’d watch them as years would go on – what it meant to the family, and how great of a possibility to other Down syndrome children to learn much more than just sitting and playing together – educating them,” Flatley said. “And it’s a tremendous gift that’s been given here.”
And yes, there really is a Gigi. She and her mom, Nancy Gianni, have built a network of Gigi’s Playhouses around the U.S. and beyond.
They say their mission of inclusion is more important now than ever.
“There’s actually less acceptance going on right now, and we’re feeling it, and we’re seeing it to our individuals with Down syndrome and to our playhouses,” Gianni said. “We’re experiencing a lot of negativity against individuals with disabilities. One of our playhouses was vandalized – the R-word was written all over our kids’ beautiful faces. We had one of our other playhouses burnt down, and it was arson.”
Boland’s donation will help Gigi’s Playhouse in its mission to make acceptance a reality. We were there when Boland and Flatley handed over the check – presenting it to Gigi.
The message that Boland, Flatley, Gianni – and of course, Gigi – send is a gift to all kids.
“A lot of it’s just acceptance,” Boland said. “Accepting, you know, people that are different – whether it’s Down syndrome, whether it’s children with glasses, or whatever it might be – just accept one another.”
In June, Gigi’s Playhouse began a new campaign called “Gigi’s Fit and Acceptance Challenge.” It is a physical and social movement.
You can walk, swim, and pledge your commitment to accepting everyone as they are.
For more information, go to the Gigi’s Playhouse website.MORE NEWS: 1 Killed, 2 Wounded In West Pullman Shooting