“All children deserve to have somewhere special to store their personal belongings, so they can feel special too.”
This is the message behind Sally and her Suitcase, a children’s book written by Kendall Dunlop.
Dunlop wrote the story for an assignment while studying Early Childhood Education at St Clair College as a part of her concurrent program with the University of Windsor.
Sally and her Suitcase is the story of a foster child named Sally, who finds herself moving frequently, and the importance of her suitcase she carries her belongings in. This story was inspired by Dunlop’s personal experience with foster care and the sense of control she felt when she got her first suitcase.
“When I got my first suitcase, it was not like I was being moved,” said Dunlop. “It was like I was going somewhere.”
For many children in care, personal belongings get moved in garbage bags, which seems like a practical way to pack things quickly, but has a negative mental impact on the children who are moving.
She said she remembers Karen Marr, the coordinator of the Child and Youth Care program at St Clair College, talking about the mentality around a person’s belongings. As she explained, people’s personal items offer a sense of belonging, and by putting someone’s belongings in garbage bags, it feels as if you are telling them that they are worthless. However, by providing these children with luggage, you are telling them their possessions are valuable, therefore they are as well.
Dunlop said when she wrote the story, the connection to her suitcase felt like a unique, personal experience, but after seeing people’s response to it, she now sees how her experience is shared with many children who move around constantly.
Since she wrote the story, Dunlop has had multiple people ask her where they can buy or read the currently unpublished story. However, on June 14, she had a meeting at the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society to share her story. Following this meeting, Dunlop is working with the CAS to find connections and sponsorships in hopes of publishing her work.
Dunlop said she hopes her story empowers children and youth in care to feel capable and in control of their lives. Additionally, she encourages anyone who has luggage they no longer need to donate it to local children and youth in care.
- Albert Sharp