It’s funny how, looking back, you’re able to clearly connect all the dots that lead you to a place and purpose. I now call that ‘finding my WHY’.
I grew up, for the most part, lost within my own mind. A world created through an untamed imagination and dreams that knew no limits. Perhaps it was an escape from my reality. A reality that too often presented itself as a harsh and uncaring place filled with far too much pain and suffering.
Despite growing up being told repeatedly that I’m just a dreamer I chose to remain defiantly so and I guess that explains why, as an adult, I am still drawn to the magic held within a child’s mind. These are the seeds of creativity and change, without which, we would face a rather dim horizon. Something truly powerful and unstoppable comes from imaginations and dreams united and unleashed! They give us the ability to believe, influence, inspire and create – create hope, create change and ultimately create a better future.
For the longest time I imagined I would one day write and illustrate children’s books, but I could not have envisaged the path that lead me here. COLOUR OUR STORY aims to draw out young imaginations and facilitates a beautiful, creative exchange between children from such different parts of the world with different backgrounds and experiences. Yet, despite these differences, they are united in a bond of pure curiosity and love.
After running two children’s drawing events – one in Auckland and one in Melbourne, I had the first colouring in books to take to the kids at one of the Orphfund Orphanages in Uganda. The children responsible for all those initial drawings and stories understood and whole heartedly embraced the concept – that their creations would be part of something special and unique. Creating Colouring In books for kids, made by kids and driven by something greater than themselves. The ultimate goal is to better the lives of children around the world who have had to face far too much of the ‘real’ world in their short lives.
Delivering the COLOUR MY STORY books to those children in Uganda, along with the very special pencil cases from Pencils Community, was beyond anything I could have hoped for! They instantly connected with the lovelingly sent drawings and stories from far away, which confirmed everything for me. These books could help ignite a deeper sense of global community and humanity across borders and oceans, starting with the young ones and eventually reaching the older generations.
They excitedly got to work on their own drawings and stories and beamed with pride at the thought of being authors and illustrators of their own UGANDA book that would spread their message far and wide – the message that ultimately they are no different to any other children. They too imagine and dream of bright futures and they work so incredibly hard to achieve them whilst supporting and nurturing each other. Through their drawings and stories it also became so apparent to me how much they care for others, for the planet and above all want to be global citizens shaping the kind of future we should all be striving for.
However what had the greatest impact on me, visiting these kids for the second time in two years, is that having a creative outlet and being encouraged to express themselves goes so much deeper! It led me to further research and discover the therapeutic benefits of creative activities for children who have suffered trauma and loss – in particular colouring in books! From my own personal experience volunteering with children I do believe the benefits of creative expression and freedom are profound! It is therefore so important that we feed their bodies, minds, hearts and imaginations. If more children grew up with this opportunity just imagine the changed and more deeply connected global community and world we could create.
It is not our reality that shapes our perception. It is our perception that changes our reality. If we can change our perception we can change our reality and in doing so we can change the world. Jonathan Lyon