NELSON BEATS THE ODDS
An inspiring story about a student whose placement in special education doesn't stop him from believing in himself or his dreams
“I was always the kid who was running around...I literally couldn’t sit still.
- Michael Phelps, ADHD
NELSON BEATS THE ODDS is a 32-page graphic novel about an African American student named Nelson who spends more time playing with his friends than paying attention in class. Nelson's misbehavior gets him into hot water with his teachers. One of Nelson's teachers meets with parents and refers him to special education. Nelson becomes upset because now he won't be in class with his friends and worries about being teased. Nelson's parents and special education teacher see his potential and help him overcome his challenges.
The graphic novel has been written and Imagine That! Design is providing the illustration, layout & design and formatting services. We decided to go with a graphic novel layout so that it will appeal to a wider audience of kids. The target age audience are elementary, middle and high school boys and girls. The illustrators are currently breaking down the text and doing rough sketches for the initial dummy book. Once they have some characters established, they'll send me sketches and I'll send them any necessary edits.
"Not having early success on that one path messes with you. You get lumped in classes with kids with autism and Down syndrome, and you look around and say, 'Okay, so this is where I'm at.' Or you get put in the typical classes and you say, 'All right, I'm obviously not like these kids either.' So you're kind of nowhere. You’re just different. The system is broken. If we can streamline a multibillion-dollar company, we should be able to help kids who struggle the way I did.”
- Channing Tatum, ADHD
Mrs. Tobeywas my sixth and seventh grade special education teacher. I remember hating going to her class because I didn’t want anyone to know that I was in special education. At a time in my life when I felt really small, Mrs. Tobey made me feel really big. Mrs. Tobey has been so influential in my life that I asked her if I could include her as a main character in my graphic novel NELSON BEATS THE ODDS. She was one of several people who encouraged me to write the book. I want NELSON BEATS THE ODDS to resonate with young people, particularly African American males and students with learning disabilities. I know exactly what they're going through and I wanted to write a story that speaks directly to their experiences. I also want the story to resonate with current and future educators because their perceptions and actions leave an impression on their students that extend beyond their interactions with them in elementary school, middle school or high school.
My name is Ronnie Sidney II and this past spring I created a Prezi presentation entitled "Beating The Odds: How I Survived Special Education" for a Richmond Chapter - National Association of Black Social Workers educational symposium. The presentation inspired me to go back to my old school and honor Mrs. Tobey and six other teachers who helped make my success story happen. I felt obligated to give back to those who gave so much to me and helped me along my educational journey. I realize today that without their support I may have become just another statistic...
“My teachers thought I was lazy and not very clever, and I got bored easily...thinking of all the things I could do once I left school. I couldn’t always follow what was going on. On one of my last days at school, the headmaster said I would either end up in prison or become a millionaire. That was quite a startling prediction, but in some respects he was right on both counts!”
- Richard Branson, Dyslexia
Studies have shown that students with learning disabilities face lower teacher expectations; carry around stigmatizing labels; develop lower self-esteem; and experience poorer academic outcomes than students without learning disabilities. A 2011 study by the IDEA Data Center found that African American students were disproportionately placed in special education. In the author’s home state of Virginia, African American students made up 23.8% of the student population but represented 31.6% of students diagnosed with a specific learning disability. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Black and Hispanic students with disabilities face much higher rates of school disciplinary actions, drop-out rates and experience lower rates of graduation.
I was diagnosed with a learning disability in the fifth grade and it had a profound effect on my self-esteem and confidence. I experienced several years of stigmatization, low teacher expectations and disinterest in school. I graduated high school at the bottom of my class with a 1.8 GPA. After completing one year in community college, I transferred to Old Dominion University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services. I took five years off of school and worked in the mental health field with young people. In 2011 I enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University's Master of Social Work program and graduated August 2014 with a 3.5 GPA.
"I was diagnosed with ADHD twice. I didn't believe the first doctor who told me and I had a whole theory that ADHD was just something they invented to make you pay for medicine, but then the second doctor told me I had it."
- Solange, ADHD
Memorial Scholarship Fund
The book is dedicated to my high school friends Teddy Rich, Arthur Bundy and Lekresha Joseph who now rest in paradise. 10% of the proceeds from the novel once it goes on sale will go into a memorial scholarship fund for Essex High School graduating seniors who have overcome challenges and want to attend college or a trade/technical school. No funds from the Kickstarter campaign will be used toward the memorial scholarship fund.
- Final Sketches Jun 12, 2015
- Final Deliverable Aug 17, 2015
- Buying 500 soft cover graphic novels for about $3,000
- Contracting with Imagine That! Design for $4,500 to provide illustrations, formatting, layout and design for the graphic novel
- Paying for promotional videos $500
- Promotional items and promotional event attendance $500
- Paying for website design $100
- ISBN number $400
United States - $5
Canada - $25
UK - $25
Countries in the EU - $25
Australia - $25
Everywhere Else - $40
Risks and challenges
The #1 challenge that I'm facing is a lack of capital. I am using my own personal money to finance the project and have found the costs to be much higher than I had anticipated. I am also finding it difficult to secure a loan and don't have the income to currently support the scale of the project. The project's final payment is scheduled to be completed by August 17th. Due to my fervent desire to release the project and unfamiliarity with the politics of book making, I decided to self-publish. Finding a distributor, building up a product inventory, traveling and promoting the graphic novel to stores, schools and other venues are a few of the economic hurdles that I foresee encountering.
I am dedicated to see this project through even if it means that I'll go into further personal debt. When I have a goal, no matter how challenging it may be, I'll do whatever it takes to accomplish it. I am passionate about this project and believe there is a population of boys and girls who need a book that speaks to their educational experience. I understand that financially I cannot do it alone and any support you can provide will be greatly appreciated, thank you!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (40 days)