Like any parent, Kaye Banez wants the best for her children. As far as she can remember, growing up in San Juan, her parents taught her and her brother many values that she holds true, and have been guided by these principles in rearing her own children.
Kaye has been an advocate for autism in the community, especially after her son was diagnosed with the developmental disorder, which refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.
Together with her husband, Vince, and children Lazarus, 5 and Estella, 3, they all work together to make the world a better place. She shares with PNT her hopes and dreams for her children, and the work she does for the community to make people aware of this disorder.
PNT: What got you started on writing a book on autism?
KB:Actually, this is a children’s book that is suitable for all children ages 2-6. The book is meant to be inclusive for all kids but I’ve incorporated features in the book that support learning especially for kids who have some challenges. The book is designed to be autism friendly, yet it is created to entertain all young children. The story is about bedtime routines and is relevant to all children and families. One of my inspirations for the book is my son. One night I was putting him to bed and after we finished our usual routine for bedtime, as we were going up the stairs, I said to my son, “Lazarus, say, see yah in the morning!” My son repeated my words and that night I stayed up to finish the draft of the book.
PNT: Why is there a need for awareness for autism?
KB: 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism in North America. That is a very significant part of the population. To this day, there is no cure, but there are amazing therapies that help the children to learn and make sense of the social world and there are local organizations that help improve the quality of life of children on the spectrum and their families. There are so many people that are still misinformed about autism, and I want to be a part of the advocacy to break down the stigma and misunderstanding of what autism is and is not. Every child with autism is different, just like every child is different but unique and special just the way they are.
PNT: What is “See yah in the morning” about? Who is your publisher and who did the illustrations?
KB: “See Yah in the Morning!” is a bedtime routine story book that takes the child through their bedtime routine. The book is meant to create a fun bedtime experience for young children. Every parent at some point, if not on a daily basis has struggled to put their kids to bed! I created my own boutique publishing firm called Bammstella Creations. This is the first book in a series of books that celebrate the beauty and wonder of childhood and milestones. Bammstella Creations creates books that are fun, engaging and inclusive for all children. Bammstella Creations also support Canucks Autism Network in that $1 of every book sold will be donated to CAN. I also want to help other amazing charities that work tirelessly to help children with special needs and their families. Any group, school or organization can use our book as a fundraising product for their fundraiser event or campaign and they get $2 back from every book sold from their campaign. My husband and I teach our kids that sharing is caring and we want to embed this principle into Bammstella Creations. I also want to highlight other businesses and people that have a strong mandate to help children with special needs and their families. My cousin, Jenkin Liao who resides in Australia, is our illustrator, and we also dedicate this book to our grandparents who are in their 90s and as a tribute to our family who have supported us in this journey.
PNT:What do you do to involve other parents and families in your work with the autism network?
KB: I chose Canucks Autism Network as a beneficiary as they provide great sports and recreation programs for children and youth on the spectrum and their families. They are all about inclusion and providing the families with great experiences and they are actively involved in the schools, and partnering with businesses to promote the advocacy and understanding. I want more families to know about CAN and other organizations that can help them with resources.
PNT: What are your dreams for this endeavour?
KB: I would like to continue to create books that celebrate the milestones and wonder of childhood. I also want to help charities in their fundraising efforts through our books and at the same time to be able to help other parents advocate for their children who have special needs. Personally, I wish for my children to learn from this experience, the value of hard work, determination and perseverance. That good will come out of good if they have faith, to always count their blessings and share their blessings with others.
PNT: What are lessons in life that have taught you much about giving back to others? Did you learn this from your parents or from your own experiences?
KB: I believe that the world is a very small place. God gave meaning to all of my experiences in the past and I appreciate every success and struggle now. Everyone benefits when they share and at every time I gave to others, I have received even more blessings. I have come to realize that success is not measured only by financial wealth, but it is also measured by one’s character, relationships with others and how we pass on our legacy to our children. My parents also gave up everything for my brother and me when we immigrated to Canada, and their sacrifice to give us a better future has always inspired me to do my best and show them that their hard work, love and care for us is much appreciated.
Kaye puts her trust in God, as she prays that her children grow up to be resilient to any struggle, any challenges, and any obstacles in their journey through life – that they do what they are meant to do, whatever their passion is as long as they have faith in God, help others and work hard and ethically to achieve their dreams. Like any good parent, having God as a guide will certainly make these desires for her children all possible.
Kaye will be launching her book at the Richmond Olympic Oval on August 26 from 2-5 pm. There will be guest charities such as the Pacific Autism Family Network, Canucks Autism Network, Autism Speaks BC, BC and Alberta Guide Dogs and the Vancouver Public Library Foundation so families can connect with these organizations if they need any resources. There will be food, entertainment, and some really great prizes! Space is limited up to 300 people so please get your tickets now. The admission is FREE and the Oval has graciously offered to open the ROX, which is the Richmond interactive Olympic museum (regular admission is $20 per person).
For tickets to the book launching of Kaye, go to Eventbrite:http://bit.ly/2siwD2O or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If space is available, people can also register at the door. For those who are not able to make it, we also created the Bammstella Stone Soup High-Five Challenge where people can donate just $5 to help us with the fundraising efforts. To participate in this challenge go to: gofundme.com/stonesouphighfive