Book Review & Interview with Anita Heiss

LIN WONG’S KIDS’ BOOK CLUB

Kicking Goals by Anita Heiss, Adam Goodes & Michael O’Loughlin.

Anita Heiss is an Australian author working across a range of areas: children’s literature, chick literature, non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, poetry, social commentary, extending her reader’s knowledge and understanding of contemporary Aboriginal life in Australia. She’s a wonderful role model for the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy and an Advocate for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador. Kicking Goals is her latest book which is a collaboration with former footballers Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin.

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Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin are AFL legends, blood brothers and great mates. They’re two of the best footballers ever to play for the Sydney Swans. But how did they meet and become mates? What were they like when they were kids? What did they get up to at school? And what was it like to go from being normal teenagers to AFL superstars? These are popular questions kids would love to know. And all of these questions are answered in Kicking Goals where they tell their stories of friendship in their own words, as told to Anita Heiss.

 

My favourite parts in this book are the moments where Adam and Michael reveal their humility and kindness.

Michael says, “Adam’s friendship means a lot to me. The toughest moment for me was the death of my grandmother, and Adam was really solid. With those types of things, and with my family living thousands of miles away, you need to be able to rely on each other.”

And Adam says, “Kids can be leaders by helping others who might be struggling to learn. If you’re really good at something, you can help teach other people your skills.”

I was lucky to interview Anita Heiss earlier this year.

Lin Wong: What do you do each day that gives you joy?

Anita Heiss: Starting my day with a run gives me joy – this may be along the Brisbane River, Maroubra Beach (Sydney) or around Treasury Gardens (Melbourne) depending on where I am on any given day. Running clears my head, helps me work through my storylines and makes me feel good about myself and the day ahead.

The second thing I try to do most days is have a coffee with a tidda. The venue really doesn’t matter; it’s just the time to yarn, debrief, laugh and quite often plot that brings me joy.
Lin Wong: What do you do to stimulate your creativity?

Anita Heiss: I people watch. I talk to people. I put my running shoes and hit the pavement. Sometimes, I just lie down and clear my head of anything that is not about what I am supposed to be focussed on, because the one thing that stifles creativity most is a head full of chaos about things unrelated to my current project.

Lin Wong: What has inspired & motivated you to write your first ever book?

Anita Heiss: I was at UNSW doing my Honours degree and realised nearly every book on the shelf about Aboriginal anything was written by a non-Aboriginal author, and even authors who had never been to Australia. I knew that my responsibility as someone with access to education was to provide a voice for those without. My first book Sacred Cows (Magabala Books, 1996) though was really a statement to say that we (Aboriginal people) could equally write about non-Aboriginal people because we have been socialised, educated and employed though white institutions.

Kicking Goals is Anita’s latest kids’ book and I give it a 9/10.

Well done and congratulations to her, Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin for creating great kids literature.

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The launch of the “Don’t Be a Loser” campaign. (An anti-racism and anti-bullying initiative)

On the 20th of June we launched the “Don’t be a Loser” campaign

at Darlington Public School. This is an innovative anti-racism and

anti-bullying initiative directed at school-age children. The kids were

super excited to see The Wong Side of Puppets set up and then to see

them in action on the big screen. They had their mouths open in awe.

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Together we discussed the meaning of racism and bullying and made

popsicle puppets to do some role playing. In the music video Lin

Wong showed that she was very sad and upset but in our plays we

made Lin not act like a victim but instead be strong and brave.

We also did role playing about what to do if we saw a friend being a victim of

racism or bullying.

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In one scene, where it felt safe, a child said, “Leave Lin alone! Lin come

and play with me and my friends.” In another scene, the child called

upon a teacher and the teacher pulled the bullies and racists aside and asked

them, “Would you like it if I behaved like this towards you? They both said no

and then the teacher encouraged them to make Lin an apology card.

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One of the tools conveyed was to teach the kids that if they are by themselves

and experiencing bullying or racism at school, they can retaliate with a simple

“be strong and stay super” pose and then bravely walk away and find kind

people to play or be friends with.

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The children loved doing this pose. One child said, “I feel like

a super hero doing this!” Another kid said, “I feel so much stronger and

better.”

During our discussion a little boy said, “Bullies and racists are not happy

people and they just want to make others sad like them!”

One girl said, “The big cross we’re making with our arms is like a big NO

to racism and bullying!” 

I hope that this will one day be the universal gesture against racism and bullying.

It was a great launch, and so satisfying to see the children empowered by the

activities we did together. I had prizes to give away to the best listeners,

performers and those who behaved kindly towards each another during the

activities, thanks to our sponsor Bendigo Bank.

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“Good for teaching children how to deal with bullying, racism and being

resilient!” said Mr Askew (K-2 teacher).

 

It has been a great start to get the message out into the community. Together

we can put a stop to racism and bullying!

Hashtag: It stops with me! #ItStopsWithMe

Darlington launch

 

Check out the Wong Side of Life’s anti-bullying / anti-racism music video 

“Don’t be a Loser.”

 

You can purchase a DVD, lesson plan and template of the Popsicle puppets for only

$55 (includes postage and handling) directly from Joy.

Joy Hopwood is available to to do 40 minute in-class workshops or 20 minute

motivational speeches especially for kids.

For more info contact Joy here

www.joy.net.au

Lin Wong DVD

 

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