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RGA UK and ground-breaking children’s authors urge libraries to help combat dwarfism stereotypes

School and public libraries can help combat prejudice by promoting positive portrayals of people with dwarfism, according to the new ‘Spread The Word’ campaign launched today by leading dwarfism charity, RGA UK.

The charity – which campaigns to ensure people with dwarfism have the same opportunities as everyone else – has teamed up with two ground-breaking authors to encourage school and public libraries to stock children’s books showing dwarfism in a positive and realistic light.

Supporters are encouraged to contact their public or school library to request they stock ‘Strong and Mighty Max’ by Kristina Gray and ‘We Are Giants’ by Amber Lee Dodd, as well as ‘I can’t not never be very tall’ by Susan Hatton.

Template emails and letters to send to libraries – as well as Tweets, and Facebook posts – are available from the RGA UK website. Click here.

The aim of ‘Spread The Word’ is to promote more positive and accurate depictions of people with dwarfism who are otherwise often widely mischaracterised as people from fairy tales, myths, and fantasy stories.

RGA UK believes such misrepresentations can perpetuate stereotypes, prejudice, and misconceptions among children at a young age.

Books such as these help to introduce children to dwarfism, disability, and difference in a positive and realistic light.

Both authors have some availability to visit libraries and schools and talk to children about their books.

Chair of RGA UK, Gillian Martin, said: “There is an urgent need to address depictions of dwarfism, in our media and popular culture, which too often misrepresent members of our community as people out of myths, fairy tales, and fantasy novels.

“Introducing children to dwarfism and disability – of all sorts – at a young age helps them to become familiar with and accommodate difference and diversity, which we believe should be celebrated and embraced.

“These authors have done wonders to help us achieve this and we are very proud to support their books, which should be in every library across the country.”

Commenting on the campaign, Kristina said: “I am thrilled to be part of the RGA’s campaign to combat negative stereotypes of people with dwarfism. Educating young minds with positive role models is the key to empowering the next generation to value each other’s differences as something to be celebrated and respected.

“For a child who is born with a rare condition there is no greater feeling than picking up a story book and finding out that the main character is just like you.”

Amber Lee Dodd said: “Children’s fiction can often be a powerful medium for positive social change, which is why I’m very honoured that ‘We are Giants’ has been picked by RGA to promote positive representations of dwarfism – especially as ‘We are Giants’ is about never needing to be anything other than who you are.”

‘Strong and Mighty Max’ is aimed at Early Years and Key Stage 1. Max, born with Achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism), explains that Achondroplasia is a ‘big word’ and not a special ‘superpower’; it simply means his bones grow differently. It is a wonderfully illustrated story encouraging discussion about how everyone is born different.

‘We Are Giants’, for readers aged 9+, is written from the view of a young girl who lives with her sister and her mum who has dwarfism. Her deceased father also had dwarfism. When her mum gave birth to two average-sized daughters, people were sceptical about whether she could take care of them. It has been endorsed by best-selling author, Jacqueline Wilson, and reviewed by The Guardian.

It was also nominated for a number of national awards including the 2017 Branford Boase award for most promising children’s debut novel and Longlisted for the 2017 Waterstones’ children’s fiction award.

Template emails, Tweets, and Facebook posts are available from the RGA UK website. Click here.

To find your local library visit https://www.gov.uk/local-library-services or http://www.findmylibrary.co.uk/.

Are there other books that you think positively portrays people with dwarfism? Why not add these to your list and let Team RGA know via office@restrictedgrowth.co.uk.

ENDS

Notes

RGA UK is in no way commercially connected to the authors nor does the charity benefit financially from sales of these books.

We are Giants / Amber Lee DODD / Quercus Children’s Books / ISBN 9781784294212

Strong and Mighty Max / Kristina GRAY / Matador /ISBN 978178589046

I can’t not never be very tall / Susan HATTON / CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform / ISBN 13: 9781499717747

Remembering the Raffle Man – Keith Hopkins (1946 – 2017)

In 2015, Keith Hopkins, known affectionately as “the Raffle Man”, was awarded the lifetime achievement award by RGA UK, in recognition for his tireless fundraising at conventions over many years.

Aldo Navato recalls: he was the “most charming and likeable man. [He] could be outrageously and unintentionally funny, which is why I thought the world of him. No equal as a relentless separator of member and hard-earned raffle money.” April Barrett recollects how Keith “was one in a million, and [I] so loved chatting to [him] at conventions. We also had a few great dances in the early years too!”

It took some years for Keith to find RGA UK, but, after joining in 1989, he soon became an active member and only missed one convention in all his time. In recent years, he enjoyed sitting back and having a more relaxed time at the organisation’s annual events. Many more of his friends have recalled how he was a big part in conventions over many years.

He also travelled to many of the regional events, held across the country. Steph Birch remembers from her time as the Chair: “wherever the RGA had hired a village hall and a children’s entertainer, Keith would be there with his friends Pam and Chris. No distance seemed too far and he always enjoyed talking to everyone – young and old. Raffles weren’t limited to convention; he would help out wherever and whenever he could. Each time we’ve seen him, he would always talk to the children and ask how they were getting on. He was a very gentle man and his presence at these events meant a lot to us as a family”.

Keith was born in London and described himself as a happy child with blond curly hair. His Dad also had Achondroplasia and his Mum was average height. He was an only child, but close to his cousins and wider family throughout his life. He took regular holidays to stay with his cousin Tony in Winchester.

In Keith’s early years, he was educated in a school for children with special needs – not uncommon for the time, when children with differences were often educated separately from the mainstream. After leaving education, he joined his dad’s workplace and was employed as an office clerk at Morganite. He started work in London. When the factory transferred to Swansea, he moved there, with his family. Here Keith worked throughout his career until retirement, aged 65. The city became home for Keith and he supported Swansea City Football Club.

Keith had many interests outside of RGA. He loved classical music and enjoyed more contemporary artists, such as Catherine Jenkins. Driving gave Keith independence and pleasure. Meteorology was a keen interest. Keith followed the pressure charts and enjoyed the cerebral challenge of interpreting the anticipated weather. He cared about the Royal Family and sent the Queen and other senior royals cards, to show his support. Keith also had a strong personal faith, which gave him great comfort.

In the last couple of years, friends could see Keith becoming more frail. Despite his poor health, he continued to live independently – staying active, and getting out and about. He was at the recent RGA convention in October – once again, his raffle bucket in hand.

He passed away aged 70 after a short stay in hospital, where he was receiving treatment for heart problems.

Keith’s family have asked for donations to the RGA, in lieu of flowers. Friends are welcome to attend the funeral, which is to be held at Morriston Crematorium, Swansea SA6 6BY at 11am on 24th February.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.

Pam Burnell and Steph Birch.

Some sad news

Dear friends, members, and supporters,

It is with a heavy heart that we have to tell you one of our well-known and much-loved members, Keith Hopkins, has sadly passed on.

Keith was an integral part of our community and our charity, for which he generously volunteered – often running our annual raffle – for many years. He was a kind and gentle character, genuine and welcoming.

We have now had confirmation about Keith’s funeral, which will take place on February 24th 2017.

If you knew Keith well and you would like to attend, please contact Adelina at RGA UK for further details (office@restrictedgrowth.co.uk).

If you would like to, it was Keith’s family’s kind suggestion that friends and family donate to the RGA – instead of providing flowers.

His family have arranged for the funeral directors to handle donations, through Graham Sullivan Funeral Directors, Ty-Hedd Funeral Home, Myndd Garnllwyd Road, Morriston, Swansea, SA6 7QG.

RGA UK was close to Keith’s heart, as he was to ours. We will all miss him.

Please pass this information on to anyone you think would like to know.

We are sorry to have to share such sad news.

The team at RGA UK.

#MoreThanPanto

#MoreThanPanto is our way of reminding others that dwarfism is a normal, everyday thing – 24/7, 365 days – and celebrating all the ways in which people with restricted growth contribute to our society. Why not join members of our committee in supporting our social media campaign, by posting on Facebook and Twitter to help spread awareness?

RGA Convention 2015

A huge thank you to all those who attended the RGA Convention and helped to make it such a fantastic weekend. It was great to see so many new and longstanding members of all ages having a wonderful time together. We would especially like to thank all the volunteers and organisers who gave up their time in order to make the event such a success.

RGA Social Day at Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park

A wonderful time was had by all who attended the recent social day in Birmingham. The weather stayed dry so we had an opportunity to see lots of the park and watched the keepers giving the animals their lunch. The RGA hired a room for a central meeting point and this was put to good use. The children found time to play some games, the adults enjoyed catching up over a cuppa, and we all welcomed a chance to meet up with old friends and some new faces who came along for the day. When asked what he liked best about the trip, Etienne (aged 9) said, ‘The zoo was good, but the best bit was getting to spend time with other children just like me.’ Thank you to everyone who attended, for helping to make the Birmingham Social Day such a success!