A Charlottetown woman’s children’s storybook is about to get a wider audience, thanks to the Jays Care Foundation, affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Jaya’s Magic Wheelchair is a story about Marlene Bryenton’s 11-year-old granddaughter, Jaya. Bryenton said the baseball illustration in the storybook has caught the attention of the Jays Care Foundation as Jaya is shown playing Challenger Baseball.
Jaya was born with a genetic disorder that means she has to be in a wheelchair. She is unable to speak but is able to walk with assistance.
Jaya, who lives in Surrey, B.C., participates in the Challenger Baseball program, which is designed to empower children, youth and adults living with physical and/or cognitive disabilities. The program uses baseball as a way to help develop life skills, such as courage, independence, teamwork and connection.
Bryenton said the Jays Care Foundation is going to sponsor storybooks for Jaya’s baseball teammates. In addition, it will be sending the storybook, Jaya’s Magic Wheelchair, to schools across Canada on a pilot program. If it’s well received, it will order more storybooks.
Jaya’s parents, Greg and Amanda Garner, said Challenger Baseball has been fantastic for their daughter.
“Jaya loves going every week and playing on a team with her friends,’’ they said in an email to The Guardian.
The British Columbia Physiotherapy Association will be providing 100 copies of Jaya’s Magic Wheelchair to Jaya’s schoolmates at Hazelgrove Elementary School in Surrey.
Bryenton said they are currently seeking sponsors for more storybooks for the school as there are 610 students. For more information, send an email to [email protected].
The Public Schools Branch on P.E.I. will also be distributing 3,200 copies of the book to kindergarten and Grade 2 students across the Island. It will also be distributed to Grace Christian School and early childhood centres.
Jaya's story and another children's book authored by Bryenton, Anna's Pink and Purple Glasses, have been translated into French. About 1,600 storybooks will be distributed to French first language, core French and French immersion students. Anna's Pink and Purple Glasses is a story about empathy, inclusion, awareness and optometry.