For this NY mother and son, giving back is a family affair

Changemakers

NEW YORK — Not satisfied with just practicing kindness in their everyday lives, one New York family has taken it a step further by teaching others.

Just As I Am — Kindness is the brainchild of entrepreneur Marsha Guerrier, who was already reading to children in underrepresented communities through her New York-based nonprofit, the Yva Jourdan Foundation. She started writing her own children’s book a couple of years ago and said that navigating 2020 made her message more important than ever.

“This past year has highlighted to me the importance of kindness more so than anything,” Guerrier told PIX11 News. “I thought, ‘what greater opportunity for me than to do a book in this climate that will teach young kids about kindness?'”

In response to the pandemic and growing social unrest, she said she started showing the project to her son, Joshua. But the 6-year-old wasn’t satisfied with just reading — he had notes about how the character, also named Joshua, should act.

“I shared with him the journey that I thought the character Joshua would take,” Guerrier said. “And he kind of edited and said ‘well, this is what I would do.’ And that’s how some of the scenes were put together.”

Joshua told PIX11 News he enjoyed working with his mom on the book. He even pointed out a scene he thought the book was missing and said his favorite part of the process was when he reminded his mom that their relationship should be featured.

“I totally forgot to put a scene about how he shows kindness with me at home, and he was like, ‘how could you forget a page about us?'” Guerrier recalled.

The mother and son have done virtual readings and discussions with other children and parents, and Guerrier said it’s been “great to get feedback” on the book’s messaging. Joshua has received feedback of his own, with one friend reviewing the book with an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Guerrier said that more books are in the works, including one on bravery — an idea that Joshua suggested — and a collection of books focused on young girls and their “superpowers.”

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