Orlando community leaders create children's book to help explain Pulse tragedy

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PHOTO VIA ORLANDO UNITED ASSISTANCE CENTER
  • Photo via Orlando United Assistance Center
Orlando community leaders have come together to create My Tío's Pulse, an illustrated children's book to help kids understand the 2016 mass shooting at the gay nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people.

All profits made from the sale of the book will go to the Orlando United Assistance Center (OUAC), which is where Pulse survivors, victims' families and others affected by the tragedy have been going to find resources and support.

Local author and publisher Keith Newhouse came up with the concept and wrote the story of Angel, a young boy who learned to take his pulse in gym class but doesn't understand why the word "pulse" makes his Uncle Luis feel sad.



"When I came up with the idea for My Tío’s Pulse, I never imagined the amount of support the project (and I) would receive," Newhouse said in a statement. "The best way I can describe it is I’m completely overwhelmed with emotion. I knew my passion for the project, but every day I’m more amazed at the passion and enthusiasm our community has put toward making this project a reality."

Newhouse worked with Kenny Tello, a physician coach and licensed therapist from Orlando Health who worked with kids affected by the Pulse tragedy. Tello helped make sure the book was "psychologically sound" and a useful tool for parents, teachers and caregivers who need to talk to children about trauma in a way that's easy to understand, according to a press release.

"This book was born out of the desire to help children find the words to describe an indescribable experience," Tello said in a statement. "To provide some light when reminders take them back to a dark place. And to help them find value and meaning in their experience."

Children's illustrator Ethan Long created the main characters and cover design, while also bringing on 21 local artists to participate in the project.

The money will help OUAC, which was established after the Pulse tragedy by the City of Orlando, Orange County Government and Heart of Florida United Way, sustain its ongoing operations.

"Consequences of traumatic events create a ripple effect throughout the entire community – not just among those who were directly impacted," said Jeff Hayward, president & CEO of Heart of Florida United Way. "The Pulse tragedy is a painful and traumatic memory that presets in the Central Florida community. The healing process will be long and difficult. My Tío’s Pulse will facilitate conversation about tragedy with children in years to come."

Joél Morales, a community partnership developer with OUAC, says Newhouse brought his inspiration for the book through a partner, CTS Agency. Morales and OUAC helped with every step of the process, from concept idea to reviewing illustrations. Morales also pushed for a focus group of families directly impacted by Pulse to make sure the project was done in a thoughtful way.

"I’ve learned when community violence happens suddenly and without warning, youth and families have heightened fears that harm could come at any time," Morales said. "It was important for me to contribute on something that be used as a resource for those parents and caregivers that found it difficult to have tough conversation; especially something so painful as June 12, 2016."

During the Come Out With Pride Orlando celebrations on Saturday, Oct. 13, Broadway star and drag queen Miss Sammy will do a live reading of the book at the Lake Eola bandshell at 7 p.m.

You can also buy the book at mytiospulse.com or Amazon.

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