In the early days of 2022, teams from across the globe came together with an idea to raise awareness of child welfare issues and find support for children, young people and families involved in the system. The Australian children’s music group, The Wiggles, was planning to tour across Canada in the Fall to introduce Canadian children and families to the brand new Yellow Wiggle, Tsehay – who herself experienced the child welfare system. Seeing an opportunity to bring our communities together, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada and first voice advocates (people with lived experience of government care) partnered with The Wiggles to write a children’s book called Something in Common. The goal? Help readers learn about concepts like child welfare, kinship care, foster care, group homes, and adoption – and how they can support those affected.
The Something in Common project was a huge effort from so many people and we wanted to share some behind-the-scenes photos and stories. So, let’s start at the beginning!
Creating the book
In Something in Common, Tsehay is a counsellor at Camp Wiggles, where she meets a lonely camper named Leo. Tsehay tells Leo that making new friends can be a little easier when you find things you have in common. Together, they meet a group of other campers who all have something in common with Leo – they’ve all been involved in the child welfare system. By the end of the book, Leo is more confident, and has made some new friends!
The team at Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada wanted the story to be authentic to the experiences of those with lived experience, and so to help craft Leo and the other campers’ stories, we held virtual creative and storyboarding meetings with a group of first voice advocates.
Suzie, one of the advocates, helped inspire the character Casey. “I entered care at the age of 14, after spending four months finding places to stay while I was finishing grade 8. Like Casey, my best friend’s mom and dad became my foster parents, and they are still very much my family today.”
“Books like Something in Common can bring us diverse family dynamics and characters we relate to. If I told myself at 10 years old that my story would inspire a character in a e-book created with The Wiggles, I wouldn’t believe it! Back then, I would’ve put on The Wiggles’ VHS tape and danced with excitement – something I used to do, just like the character Casey.”
The first voice advocates we met spoke about their own camp experiences, what their childhood was like, and what they would’ve liked to tell other children about their family in school. They shared their favourite children’s books and what activities helped comfort them growing up. One attendee recalled how equine therapy made them feel better – and in the book, you can spot campers riding horses!
Without the advocates who donated their time and expertise to the storyboarding of the book and helping inform the characters, Something in Common wouldn’t have been possible.
Tsehay, the Yellow Wiggle, also joined our virtual sessions from Australia to meet with the first voice advocates. She shared her adoption story, which is told in the book – and spoke about how inspiring it was to meet others who were involved in child welfare.
From there, the book’s manuscript was drafted, and first voice advocates and our partner Native Child and Family Services of Toronto provided feedback and insight into how it could be improved. After a few drafts, the story was finished and it was time to move onto the artwork.
A publishing house, Five Mile Press, and The Wiggles’ illustrators led in developing the book and creating its beautiful artwork. The illustrations combined the stories the first voice advocates told with unique character artwork. For example, when Leo tells the campers his story, a Pow Wow can be seen – the illustration is inspired from photos of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto’s annual Pow Wow.
Once the story and illustrations were done, it was time to prepare to share Something in Common with the world!
The Foundation team was fortunate to spend a day in summer 2022 capturing photos and videos to help promote the e-book. The Wiggles flew in from Australia to join us and the first voice advocates who helped create the book – which meant the advocates who met with Tsehay on a video call back in the book’s development phase got to meet Tsehay and the team in person!
Brittany and Kevin, two former young people in care who now have a family together, brought their daughter to meet Tsehay and participate in the photoshoot day, where they got to sing Do the Propeller! together!
Tsehay also joined us to film a Public Service Announcement that aired across Canadians’ television screens to promote the book and its cause.
Sharing the book across the country!
Something in Common was supported by many generous organizations in order to have an impact across the country. AMJ Campbell donated $1 for every e-book downloaded, and CIBC Foundation and The Printing House (TPH) supported the book and made its creation possible. TPH printed the books and other materials, which were shared with communities from coast to coast – bookmarks were even given out to families as The Wiggles toured across Canada. Our media partners Corus Entertainment Inc. and Rogers Sports & Media aired the Public Service Announcement with Tsehay to help spread the important message the book has. Thank you to our partners for making this project possible!
Something in Common was also featured across Canadian media outlets like The Morning Show, CTV Toronto, CityNews, The Daily Hive and more! Tsehay, the Foundation’s President and CEO Valerie McMurtry and first voice advocates who contributed to the book spread the book’s message through radio and tv.
The Foundation was honoured to work with partners across the country to hold events to celebrate the e-book and its message. Two launch events were held in September 2022 at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) and Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, where The Wiggles came to put on a special show for children and young people in child welfare. You can watch the livestream of the event at Native Child and Family Services of Toronto on our YouTube channel!
Our partner, Mastermind Toys, held events in Ontario and Manitoba, where families could come to listen to a reading of the book, and enjoy a special performance by The Wiggles. For those who couldn’t catch a book reading live, Tsehay filmed a book reading of Something in Common for The Wiggles’ YouTube channel!
View this post on Instagram
The Wiggles also helped make the dreams of some lucky children come true – tickets were given to Children’s Aid Societies across Canada so that over 100 children in and from child welfare could attend their concerts!
Through so many special events and with the support of our partners, Something in Common had a tremendous impact.
Something in Common’s impact
Whether they’re living in kinship care, foster care, a group home, or any other family arrangement, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada is committed to ensuring every child involved with the child welfare system has access to the resources and supports they need to truly thrive.
As Canada’s leading charity dedicated to improving the lives of children in and from government care, we raise and grant funds and develop high-impact programs that are delivered in partnership with 80 child- and youth-serving agencies nationwide. Since its launch, Something in Common has been downloaded almost 10,000 times and has helped raise money from readers and supporters who support its message and our cause.
Want to download the e-book? You can download your own free copy of Something in Common today. With every download, our generous supporter AMJ Campbell will donate $1 to Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada to help improve the lives of young people in and from care.