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New children's book teaches children about homeless rights

Calgarian Andrea Landriault turned the Homeless Charter of Rights into a book for kids

Andrea Landriault turned the Homeless Charter of Rights into a book to help children understand homelessness, and to help break the stigma surrounding poverty.

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Andrea Landriault turned the Homeless Charter of Rights into a book to help children understand homelessness, and to help break the stigma surrounding poverty.

Homelessness can be a tough concept for young kids to wrap their heads around, but a new book by a Calgary woman hopes to address some of that confusion.

Andrea Landriault works in the homeless sector as a volunteer liaison at the Calgary Drop In Centre, but while working on her master's degree, she saw the opportunity to develop a children's book about homelessness.

Landriault started with a Calgary-created document, the Homeless Charter of Rights, which was developed two years ago by local homeless advocates.

"I saw the opportunity to design educational material and I adapted it to the charter," she said.

The result was a book titled "I May Not Have a Home, But I Have Rights."

Each page features an article from the charter translated into elementary level English. The original wording is also at the bottom of the page in italics.

The entry for each page begins, "I may not have a home, but…" and spells out a right such as access to health care, or freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

To illustrate the book, Landriault enlisted the help of friends' children, who ranged in age between six and 12.

"They took the rights home, talked about them with their family and drew their interpretations of that from those conversations," she said.

Darren Mycroft, who serves on the Client Action Committee of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, helped draft the original charter and assisted with this book.

"This book presents itself as an amazing teaching tool to really reach those young developing minds, and give them a contradictory set of beliefs to what society has been doing for a long time in terms of discriminating against people based upon social perceptions," he said.

Landriault agreed, saying there's a section in the book about how children can take what they've learned into the real world.

"It's got that service learning component to it – yes, you're being educated, but you're also being empowered."

She said the project took her about a year and a half from conception to completion. It's now available for sale at Owl's Nest books, and on Amazon.ca.

Books are $20 plus shipping, and the money will go to the Client Action Committee.

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