Connectors: ‘A Walk In My Shoes’ by Kate Chandulal

Thirteen-year-old Auckland girl Kate Chandulal would love to be just like everyone else. Diagnosed with scoliosis at birth and contracting meningitis at the age of five, life has been far from ordinary for Kate.

Seeking solace in reading and with a gift for storytelling, Kate has written a book about her experiences, ‘A Walk in My Shoes’, in the hope that it will foster greater awareness and understanding among her peers.

Kate says, “My longing in life is to be like others, to belong and not be left out, like the ugly duckling was in the story. When I experience rejection or become an object to poke fun at, I have a heavy sinking sadness inside and want to ask, “Why are you being so mean? I’m just like you inside.”

Kate challenges readers to walk in her shoes and to have empathy and understanding for those whose life is different from their own. She hopes that by reading her book, people will realise how painful it is to be stared at, rejected and bullied, just because, as Kate says, she was born with a syndrome that makes her face look different, like a mixed-up jigsaw puzzle!

Kate’s message is also one of resilience and hope. Despite her physical limitations, Kate loves young children and is positive about the life she has and hopes that her story will reach hundreds of children all over the world.

We’re publishing Kate’s story as part of our ‘Into Connectors’ series, which supports students to strengthen and construct meaning collaboratively with their peers, and A Walk in My Shoes encourages responsive and responsible reading by students.

Talking about Kate and her book, Jan Melbourne, Associate Principal, Starship Unit, Northern Health School, said,“At the school in Starship, we’ve known Kate since before she was five, and although we wish she never needed to come to hospital, we are always delighted to see her in our classroom. She has mature and original ideas, and writes amazing stories. We love her positive outlook, her kindness to others, and her sunny attitude which shines despite the challenges she faces.

Connectors is a series of books that uses the approach of small group peer learning to strengthen and construct meaning and apply comprehension strategies in a social setting through oral language, which comes about during discussion and peer conversations. The Connectors books are based on the foundation of the reciprocal teaching approach of predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarising, with additional comprehension strategies – giving opinions, making connections and visualising.

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