Isleham amputee charity Steel Bones launches children’s book series to educate young people about disability
PUBLISHED: 11:24 29 October 2019
An Isleham-based charity that supports amputees and their families has launched a children’s book which aims to educate young people about disability.
=The book - 'A Day Out with Speedy' - is the first in a series created by Steel Bones, which explores real life scenarios in a simple way.
The charity was founded by Leigh and Emma Joy-Staines who wrote the first story based on their experience of taking a wheelchair to a theme park.
The idea behind the books came from Leigh's son when he first started school.
"Teddy said that his friends kept asking questions - why was my leg missing? Did he have to push my wheelchair? Did this mean his daddy wasn't strong or capable?
"Children are inquisitive by nature and their questions deserve answering. Limb loss is not something that should be scary to children or confusing.
"The books are designed to fill a gap in the market - there are no children's books which focus on amputation and yet so many families in the UK are affected."
The launch was attended by guests including amputee families and friends of the charity, which was started after Leigh had his leg amputated at the age of 25.
The amputation came after a series of operations to treat club foot, which is a deformity of the feet that causes them to point down and inwards.
Leigh's amputation followed an unsuccessful operation which saw the last remaining artery to his foot severed.
After his discharge from hospital, Leigh found it difficult to come to terms with what had happened and how to move forward.
Both Leigh and Emma struggled to find support groups following the procedure so they decided to start Steel Bones.
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Leigh said: "I had been given no information. There was no offer of support. There was absolutely nobody to turn to for advice. And despite the love and care of my girlfriend Emma, I felt utterly alone."
Leigh decided to create a support network for people like him.
"Emma and I decided to form a Facebook group called Steel Bones - a play on words to demonstrate how strong we could be together," he said. "We were hoping to meet a few friends and create a forum to have a conversation."
The group snowballed and it became clear that there was a whole community of people across the UK who felt the same way as Leigh and Emma.
"We arranged a bit of a get-together and 60 people travelled from across the country to meet," Leigh added.
"And just like that, we had an enormous extended family. A network of people who had all felt alone and now no longer were."
Many members of the Steel Bones community attended the launch event for A Day Out with Speedy, including ambassador Alice Mason, who is on the development squad for the paralympics.
The event started with a breakfast reception before moving into a presentation by Leigh and Emma on why they started Steel Bones and the journey they have had so far.
There was also a reading of the new book by Leigh and Emma's children, Teddy, nine, and Sally, six.
Following the event, attendee Deputy Lieutenant Lily Bacon said: "It was a great pleasure to attend the launch of 'A Day Out with Speedy', a fantastic guide to help children understand some of the challenges of living with a disability through a positive and engaging story.
"Leigh and Emma are the remarkable and courageous force behind Steel Bones, and it was a delight to meet them and hear more about their ambition for this amazing charity."
A Day Out with Speedy is available on the online shop, and is hoped it will be supplied in libraries, hospitals and schools to ensure that it reaches as many children as possible.
The launch of the book took place on October 24t at Milton Road Library.
For more information about Steel Bones, visit: www.steelbone.co.uk