Trinidad & Tobago
8 min read
Sade Walker is a staunch advocate for the differently-abled.
As someone who identifies as ‘hard of hearing,’ she knows first-hand just how cruel society can be to people deemed different.
Having experienced bullying in her formative years, she dreamed of one day creating a platform to help others navigate life after this “painful and traumatic experience.”
Driven by a desire to improve the lives of others, Sade founded the H.E.R.O. Restore Project in 2019. This platform allows parents and children with disabilities to share their experiences, gaining strength from each other in the process.
Sade firmly believes that it’s never too late to learn and relearn how we treat people who are differently abled and has penned a book that can be used as a guide.
During a recent interview with Loop News, she shared snippets of her experience which inspired her to pen her first book, Fuzzy Wants To Play.
LOOP: Tell us about your journey as an author, when/how did it begin?
SADE: My journey as an author began after the first of many workshops were held at the Princess Elizabeth Centre in March 2020. With the Covid-19 restriction measures, I started writing short stories.
LOOP: Which part of the process do you most enjoy?
SADE: The part of the process I enjoyed the most would be when I started typing my thoughts and my creative juices flowed. There are days when, once I started writing, I literally could not stop. I usually leave a 2am window for my PhD research, go to sleep from 4am and wake up at 6am to get ready for work. A manuscript would be completed in one day when I don’t have work.
LOOP: Who/what inspired you to embark on this journey as an author?
SADE: The journey as an author started when I was typing my PhD literature review one early morning. And just for a moment, I reflected on my educational journey and how far I came. Then my mind ran across El Dorado Senior Comprehensive School (my Alma Mater), the news about students setting fire to the school and deviant behaviour. At that moment, I opened a Microsoft Word document and started typing short stories on bullying.
LOOP: Why children’s books?
SADE: When I was a little girl during recess, I was punched in my ear because I did not hear the person behind me telling me to move up the line. My fraternal twin brother also had someone who just did not like him and would constantly hurt him. I recalled seeing my mother’s pain- crying and screaming, “don’t hit him! Don’t touch my babies!”
With this childhood experience, enduring that pain, and living with my hearing disability, I felt that it would be best to start with children and educate them on bullying among those with disabilities. Reach them while they are young so they will continue to become H.E.R.O. to all.
*Helping, Empowering and Respecting Others (H.E.R.O.)
LOOP: What was the most difficult/challenging part of the process?
SADE: The challenging part of the process would be maintaining a balance with my commitments – PhD, work, extra-curricular activities and writing short stories. When I write short stories and I am on a roll, sometimes (not often), I have to just force myself to stop to complete a section of PhD research and/ or go to work.
LOOP: Given the opportunity to start over, what if anything would you do differently?
SADE: To be honest, if that question was asked of me when I was a child, I would have said, I wished my parents did not rent when being pregnant. Because a neighbour’s child was having measles, the virus affected my brother and me during my mother’s pregnancy. As a child, I thought our lives would have been better had we not been born with varying degrees of hearing loss. But as I grew up, our mother taught us acceptance. We both learned to accept our hearing disability and lived by simple rules that helped us daily.
LOOP: What fuels your passion?
SADE: Being the best I can be and wanting to effect a change. The world is my canvas. I always believed that in order for change to happen, you have to lead by example which I do so in every aspect of my life. One of my favourite quotes is “reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” – Pamela Vaull Starr.
LOOP: Why is reading/literacy important?
SADE: Nelson Mandela – “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I always love this quote and embrace it with my personal truths. That’s why reading/ literacy is important. I love to read, read, read and read. It broadens my mind and magnifies my imagination. I have a library of my childhood favs – Ladybird Favourite Tales, Enid Blyton’s books, Children’s Fairy Tale Collection Tarantula Tales, Penguin Popular Classics and many more. Also, my preferred mature books include Shakespeare and James Patterson.
LOOP: Any advice for parents/guardians of children who may not enjoy reading?
SADE: Reading and learning is fun and should always be. That is why each storybook in the series is easy to read for all audiences and contains exciting illustrations.
LOOP: What do you want your legacy to be?
SADE: The one thing I want to be passed on when I leave this earth, is having lived a life of purpose. We all are born with a specific purpose as God intended. If I can use my personal experience and change a person’s life with my H.E.R.O. Bullying & Disability Stories (and by extension, the H.E.R.O. Restore Project), then I have done something meaningful to change the world where we learned to help one another, encourage others to do the right thing and be respectful to everyone.
LOOP: What’s your biggest wish for the children of T&T and the wider Caribbean?
SADE: As our nation’s motto – “Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve”
If we aspire together as one nation undivided, together we will achieve a nation forged in brotherhood and sisterhood where inclusion, acceptance, respect and empowerment are the norm. That’s my biggest wish for the children of T&T and the wider Caribbean.
LOOP: What brings you the greatest joy?
SADE: Seeing my mommy happy and fulfilled. What my mommy wanted for my brother and me was to accept our hearing disabilities, be disciplined, strong, healthy, hold steadfast to our virtues, live an independent, successful life and be committed to being the best we can be. The world is our canvas.
LOOP: What’s the last book you read?
SADE: Ladybird Favourite Tale – The Magic Porridge Pot and Building Research Models by Dr. Ben Ellway (for PhD)
LOOP: What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
SADE: That’s a tough one! I have for my inner child (all Ladybird Favourite Tales), for my thriller urge (any James Patterson book) and for my female empowerment moments (Becoming- the memoir by former first lady, Michelle Obama).
LOOP: Who are your literary heroes?
SADE: D.H. Lawrence, E.E. Cummings, Maya Angelou, Charles Perrault.
LOOP: Given the opportunity to meet one fictional character (from a book you’ve read) who would you choose and why?
SADE: Hermione Granger. Because her character in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is one who loves school. I love school and reading.
LOOP: Any advice for first-time authors?
SADE: (a) When you find the inspiration to write, keep writing and build on it. Let it flow and overflow out of you. (b) Your writing is your voice. Be authentic and let your audience connect with you. (c) Always be patient because everything is a process, including writing.
LOOP: Biggest lesson you’ve learnt during the writing and publishing process?
SADE: Patience is truly a virtue. After I wrote my manuscripts, I was so excited to complete each step in becoming a self-published author. Then I stumbled upon roadblocks and disappointments. It took me a year to find an affordable and reputable Editor. I developed writer’s block during my sad moments. Then it took a few months to locate an illustrator who would be able to meet all deliverables. Writing is a process!
LOOP: Tell us about your upcoming projects. What’s next?
SADE: Between this year (2022) and next year (2023), I will be publishing 10 books in the series.
The first three books will be available this year and the remaining will be published next year. I also hoped to transform the H.E.R.O. Restore Project into a foundation that will provide services such as testimonials on bullying and living with disabilities, pottery-incorporated workshops, mentoring, book readings and sale of books from the H.E.R.O. Bullying & Disability Stories. I also hope that the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development and Family Services would become line Ministries to the Foundation.
LOOP: Given the opportunity to address the nation’s youth on the issue of literacy, what would you say to them?
SADE: Reading is fundamental to your growth. It is a fun and learning experience. When you read, it helps build your social/ language skills to communicate well with another person. Reading creates an opportunity to create friendships and expand your comprehension.
How do you want to change the world? What is your dream? You can achieve your dreams and you can change the world by reading one book at a time. You are the future of this nation. Reading will help you to continue to make T&T a wonderful place to live for every creed and race.
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