The Abilities in Me
1719. Gemma Keir
Gemma Keir, from Hertfordshire, is the creator of a not-for-profit children's book series, 'The Abilities in Me', promoting inclusion and celebrating ability in children with additional needs.
Gemma wrote a children’s book dedicated to her son, who has a rare condition called 22q Deletion Syndrome, as a way of helping him and other people understand his condition. Following this, she was inspired to work with other families of children with additional needs to create further books celebrating ability and raising awareness of other conditions hydrocephalus, autism, congenital heart defect, type 1 diabetes, tube feeding, tracheostomy, speech delay, Down’s Syndrome and ADHD. Books are donated to hospital settings and disability charities, with profits helping fund equipment and sensory room projects in schools.
In a personal letter to Gemma, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I was inspired to hear about the book you have written celebrating the ability of your son and all those with 22q Deletion Syndrome.
“Through your literacy series, you are raising the profile of rare conditions and giving young people confidence and knowledge about their own abilities. You have also raised fantastic sums for various charities and educated children across the country with your school visits.”
Stephen McPartland, Gemma’s local MP for Stevenage, said:
“Congratulations to Gemma Keir creating the charitable book series, ‘The Abilities In Me’. Gemma’s books are promoting inclusion and celebrating ability in children with additional needs. Stevenage can be very proud of the work Gemma is doing. I am glad that her hard work has been recognised by the Prime Minister through the Points of Light award.”
In response to receiving the award, Gemma said:
“Wow, I am so speechless to have received the UK’s 1719th Point of Light! The abilities in me were founded late 2018, as I wanted to create a children’s book for my son, who has a condition called Digeorge syndrome, known as 22q deletion, to help him learn about his diagnosis but also for his young friends to understand. I also found, as a parent, there is a lot of information for the grown-ups but little resources for the child. So this was a great way to go forward, as children love picture books. Since I released that book, I have managed to release a further 13 books on other conditions including books on tube feeding and speech delay and autism. Every book is dedicated and inspired by a child in real life and I have built this series with Adam Walker-Parker who has done some amazing work for us to bring the books to life, through colourful illustrations. I work with many charity services and include them in the books to help families find support. We have also just registered with the charity commission as a foundation, so we can continue to create these books, which sell worldwide. All proceeds currently go into the production of the books and towards sensory projects. I want to bring sensory environments into schools, to help make them a more inclusive safe place.
“We donate to many hospitals and we are teamed up with the playteam at Great Ormond Street. I visit many schools and we are just in the process of setting up workshops. I zoom class settings internationally and I do this with all my heart, in the spare time I have around having three children of my own and caring for my own child with medical needs. I want the world to be more accepting and inclusive. I truly believe that, by teaching children from a young age about disabilities, will help them grow with compassion, kindness and understanding. We have many more to include into the series and I will continue to bring the abilities to light and discuss the things these children CAN do! I think it is very important for the child to not feel so alone. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart for recognising The abilities in me and these incredible children. They truly deserve to be recognised for their bravery and together, we can make a change! It means a lot to me as I work so hard behind the scenes and I feel incredibly emotional for this recognition.”
Picture credit: Danny Loo Photography