LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A University of Kentucky professor has published a children’s book about diversity and inclusion in the Bluegrass.
The ‘You Can Do So Many Things!’ story follows Flynn, a young girl with a mobility impairment and big passion for horses, as she learns about all the different ways she can work with animals despite being told she’ll never be a jockey.
“We all may think we’re trying to protect our kids from disappointment or failure by saying, ‘You’re not going to do this or that.’ But we’re also lowering those expectations, so I want this book to represent possibility,” said Kathy Sheppard-Jones, the author.
Sheppard-Jones said the book is based on some of her personal experiences growing up with a disability.
“When I first started my time with horses, the expectations of people around me were not necessarily very high because they had not seen a wheelchair-user necessarily be successful,” Sheppard-Jones said. “Just because we haven’t seen something before doesn’t mean it’s not out there.”
Sheppard-Jones said she wants kids of all backgrounds to know they can find work doing the things they love, even if it’s not in the ways they think.
“It’s going to be our littlest Kentuckians who are building inclusive communities of the future and as families rallying around them, we have great and unique opportunities to say, ‘Yes. Let’s explore what’s possible,” Sheppard-Jones said.
Flynn, the main character, travels to various parts of the Bluegrass in her exploration of the horse industry, including the Kentucky Horse Park and the University of Kentucky.
“I say it’s a little bit of a love letter to diversity in Kentucky,” said Sheppard-Jones about the book. “I think the story really shows a love of Kentucky, horses and diversity and how wonderful that is for all of us.”
A free digital copy of the book and audio reading can be found here.