“It chose me,” says Essex native Ronnie Sidney about the social work that is now the focus of his life.
In talks at Rappahannock Community College on September 24 and 30, Sidney explained how his extended enrollment in public school special education programs triggered his desire to reach out to children who are going through the same experience.
His recently published graphic novel, “Nelson Beats the Odds,” is the semi-autobiographical story of a boy who works past a diagnosis of learning disability to overcome his challenges and discover his true potential.
In addition to his novel, and his work as an outpatient therapist with the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck Community Services Board, Sidney is the founder and facilitator of “Creative Medicine: Healing through Words.”
Sidney’s mission for this company is to improve participants’ social, emotional, and physical health outcomes through creative writing. “We envision a world,” he says, “where people will use therapeutic writing and dialogue as tools to restore hope and heal wounds.”
Sidney’s latest addition to his box of therapeutic tools is a soon-to-be-released “Nelson Beats the Odds Comic Creator” app for mobile devices, which allows users to substitute their own photos to create composite images personalizing the characters’ faces in the book’s illustrations. This, he hopes, will make it easier for young people who think of themselves as failures to get used to the idea of succeeding. “If a kid can see himself doing great, the image will be there when he thinks about quitting,” says Sidney.