FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:
Denise D. Resnik
Denise Resnik & Associates
ACCLAIMED AUTHOR AND AUTISM GROUP PUBLISH CHILDREN’S BOOK
The Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), a Phoenix-based nonprofit dedicated to individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and their families, in collaboration with acclaimed author and Holocaust survivor, Gerda Weissmann Klein, and New York Times best-selling illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds, have published a children’s book that promotes tolerance and support for individuals with social differences.
The book “Wings of EPOH,” which is being released in April, is the story of a young boy with autism who takes a journey with a butterfly named Epoh, “hope” spelled backward. Together, they unveil the talents, abilities and courage that lie within. The story has also been adapted into an animated DVD and complemented by an activity and discussion guide with tips for supporting individuals with ASDs. These materials, which are designed for educators, parents, peers and professionals to engage second- through fifth-grade students in hands-on activities, also work in tandem with SARRC’s Fostering Relationships In Early Network Development (FRIEND) program.
Klein, the author of “Wings of EPOH,” has spent nearly a lifetime speaking out about her experiences during the Holocaust and advocating for tolerance and respect for others despite personal differences.
“I discovered much of myself in the characters, Matthew and Epoh,” Klein said. “The struggles and frustrations of communicating thoughts, finding comfort and connecting with loved ones is something many individuals with differences face, and it was something I dealt with in my life. I pray this story helps those individuals find the courage to sprout their wings.”
Reynolds, too, has built an internationally known company, FableVision, that helps all levels of learners reach their full potential through educational media, such as books, films and software.
“I’m hopeful this book and film will encourage and empower individuals, families, schools and communities challenged by autism,” Reynolds said.
In 2003, in an effort to encourage tolerance in schools and develop and improve social communication skills of children with ASDs, SARRC initiated the FRIEND program. The program, which utilizes a variety of activities for K-12 students, is implemented by educators, parents and therapists; and communication skills are modeled, prompted and encouraged by peers and others within the school community. The program also includes guidelines for creating groups during lunch and recess, as well as peer sensitivity training to promote awareness of individuals with ASD and social differences.
“It’s been an honor working with Gerda and Peter on this very meaningful story,” said Denise D. Resnik, co-founder and immediate past board chairman of SARRC. “Our goal is to ensure SARRC’s social agenda is advanced, one that creates a compassionate society that understands individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other social differences, recognizes their talents and abilities, and supports and celebrates their contributions to an enriched and diverse community life. ‘Wings of EPOH’ is a beautiful and very important piece of work for all times and all ages.”
About the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC)
The Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC), founded in 1997, is a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to autism research, education and resources for children and young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and their families. SARRC undertakes self-directed and collaborative research projects, serves as a satellite site for national and international projects, and provides up-to-date information, training and assistance to families and professionals about ASDs. For more information about SARRC, call (602) 340-8717 or visit www.autismcenter.org.
About Gerda Weissmann Klein
Gerda Weissmann Klein is an acclaimed author, lecturer and Holocaust survivor whose story was made into the Oscar- and Emmy-winning film “One Survivor Remembers.” Her books include her autobiography, “All But My Life,” as well as “A Boring Evening at Home”; “The Hours After: Letters of Love and Longing,” which she co-wrote with her late husband, Kurt; and “The Blue Rose,” a story of a young developmentally disabled girl named Jenny. In 1998, Gerda and Kurt formed The Klein Foundation to promote tolerance for differences, respect for others and the empowerment of students through education and community service.
About Peter H. Reynolds
Peter H. Reynolds is a New York Times best-selling illustrator and educational innovator. He is the author-illustrator of several books for children, including “The North Star,” “The Dot” and “Ish,” as well as the illustrator of the popular “Judy Moody” series. He also is a passionate advocate for the nontraditional learner and is the founder of FableVision, an educational media company that makes and distributes books, films and software.