Touching Lives through JANINE

Janine & Maryann before Amherst NH Middle School Presentation
Amherst Middle School 5th & 6th graders- A full house.
Janine and I have spent the last several weeks visiting schools, (Elementary and Middle) as well as presenting to a Parent Night and to the community at our local Public Library. The reaction to our our book, JANINE and our message has been overwhelming. A warm thank you to every person who embraced us with your words and your hugs. Most comments were directed at my daughter Janine, who bravely stood in front of crowds of students and adults, publicly disclosing her disabilities and going on to tell the emotional story of a bullying incident, (which sparked the idea for the book). I'm very proud of my daughter. She is truly my hero and is an amazing role model to not only children, but adults. She never let her challenges get in the way of her goals. Life for her has not always been easy, but her powerful sense of self and her ability to see the bright side of every situation has helped her embrace who she is. As Janine puts it;
 "My disabilities are part of me, and I am proud of who I am." 
We are hoping that our book, JANINE opens up conversations within families and schools. Perhaps if we teach kids to STAND UP for themselves and others and help them change the way they view people with disabilities, we'll put a stop to bullying and create a better world. 

Amherst Library

During our Gr5 to Adult presentations, we show the film FOLLOWING FLAME which is an Award winning documentary-short created by my daughter Kristin and inspired by Janine. Her film follows the rock band FLAME which is made up of adults with disabilities. Our mission, to help change public perception of children and adults with disabilities and increase awareness and acceptance, has become a family affair.

From Kristin, (who is currently working in Alaska):  "Growing up, I watched my older sister, Janine face a lot of challenges. The worst of those challenges were not from her disability itself, but rather society's inability to see what she was capable of. School bullies have transformed into impatient employers, unwilling to give my fun-loving, intelligent, hardworking sister a chance. These perceptions we hold about "disabilities" start at a young age and continue on into adulthood. That's why, even from thousands of miles away, I'm cheering on my Mom, Maryann Cocca-Leffler, and my sister as they present my mom's new book "Janine" in schools to show kids how important inclusion is."
Henniker, NH
Henniker, NH- Our message: Be Your Spectacular Self
Our last local Event is March 28th
Booksigning, Talk and Cake! Join us:
As you can see...The BOOK is the beginning...the "spark" which is igniting conversations in schools and communities. I have many more School visits this Spring, but please contact us if you would like us to present at your school or organization.
Warmly, Maryann and Janine
JANINE is published by Albert Whitman & Co.