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Indy teacher pens kids’ book addressing bullying, diversity, inclusion

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A high school teacher is giving lessons both in and out of the classroom. But it’s what’s he’s doing outside the classroom that could make the difference in helping children see their value.

Mental health has become a growing problem for people off all ages. And experts said the isolation and fear about the pandemic has a lot to do with that.

People come in a variety of shades. But you won’t find any of those colors in his book, “Orange.”

“I want to tell a universal story of how ridiculous it is to exclude someone just because of how they look, or, the case in my book: Nothing rhymes with orange,” said Derrick Slack, the book’s author.

In the book, each color takes on a personality or quality, both good and bad, that somehow impacts the main character, Orange ,and ultimately help him see his own value.

“Unfortunately I’ve met some students who have ended their own lives. So I’ve always wondered what could I have done what could I have said,” said Slack.

This book doesn’t cover the typical conversations around life and death, but it’s touched on topics of bullying, diversity and inclusion. He said with more kids facing extreme isolation caused by the pandemic, this book may reach someone when they need it the most.

“I think we are better when we are together and that isolation that the pandemic has caused, I have heard that from some students and I can also imagine what they are going through.”

Data shows in recent months health offices have seen an increase in the amount of adults and children needing mental health services.

The Marion County Commission on Youth launched How are Indy Kids. And the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction launched the “Be Well Crisis Helpline”

“You want to instill in them the best that humanity has to offer and you want to tell them that they are special and they have a purpose.”