UNC Speech and Hearing Sciences faculty member, Brenda Mitchell, recently published and released her first children’s book titled, “Anthony’s Adventures: Already a Winner.”
Mitchell was inspired to write the book after a trip to Malawi in 2019 with colleagues from the UNC Allied Health Sciences Department. Their mission was to collaborate with the Malawians to help provide services and to create exchange programs for students.
Mitchell met the inspiration for her book, a young boy named Precious, while visiting the Children of Blessing Trust in Lilongwe. The center, run by an occupational therapist, provides services for children with disabilities and other disadvantaged children.
Precious has oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) and is similar in appearance to Mitchell’s own son who also has OCA. The therapist at the center described the persecution faced by Precious and other children with OCA in Africa. Mitchell found herself extremely moved by their plight and wanted to find ways to help.
She decided to write “Anthony’s Adventures” to highlight the difficulties those who have the condition face in the African American community because they do not look like their peers or families. She also wanted to encourage others to write about albinism. “I don’t know of other authors that have written about children with albinism who are from the African American community,” shared Mitchell.
In addition to writing the book, Mitchell began to provide direct assistance to Precious. “Since that time, I have kept in communication with his family and an occupational therapist and speech-language pathologist in Malawi,” said Mitchell. They are all working together to make the services that Precious needs available and accessible. Faculty, friends, family and church members have helped Mitchell provide financial support to cover transportation costs and other care-related expenses.
Mitchell has plans to write another “Anthony’s Adventure” book about race to help children “overcome and celebrate their differences.” These books will be based on some difficult experiences that her son has faced. She hopes the books will encourage children to face their challenges in a positive way.
Brenda Mitchell, PhD, is an associate professor in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences and the associate chair of the Department of Allied Health Sciences’ Office of Student Services. Mitchell was awarded the Allied Health Sciences Leadership Award in 2019.
The Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences is housed in the Department of Allied Health Sciences.
-Lizzy Laufters, public relations and communications intern