Kwame Osei, local author, as well as wide receiver coach and community outreach coordinator for the Queen’s Gaels football team, is hoping his new book Yes, I am will be a positive tool to help children understand their full potential.
Osei is no stranger to children’s literature, having already penned two earlier titles. However, his latest release is his most purposeful yet, responding directly to some of the mental health issues he noticed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the early stages of the pandemic, I noticed that people were struggling with their mental health,” says Osei. “I personally lost a few people to suicide, and I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if these people had a stronger foundation of who they are. I just really believe that when you love yourself and you know yourself, you have a strong foundation that cannot be wavered, no matter what the outside world says.”
The writer decided to put together a book that teaches children the power of believing in themselves, which will hopefully lead young readers “towards the right journey in life.” Yes, I am uses self-affirmations to help children “build a foundation of undeniable confidence and self-assurance.”
“I just want kids all around the world, all around Canada, to have an internal belief in themselves from an early age,” Osei explains.
In addition to writing and working with the Queen’s football team, Osei is also a teacher at Millhaven Institution in Bath. He possesses a strong understanding of the power of youth and says, “I believe that children are the future — and for us to have an impact on the future, it’s important that we invest in the leaders of tomorrow. That’s why I focus on children.”
Osei wrote the book entirely during the pandemic, using his son to gauge how children might respond to some of its messages. “I used my son as a test for this. I placed it with him and [had] him go over it. I read it with him; [now] he finishes the sentences for me.”
While affirmations and self-confidence are the main emphases of the book, Yes, I am also features important lessons about diversity and inclusion, says Osei. “The diversity aspect is huge because now children are saying names of other kids, in other parts of the world, that they might not have ever encountered [before],” he says, noting the learning names from different cultures is important learning for parents, too.
To help teach readers about the various cultures within the book, Yes, I am includes a glossary at the beginning with the phonetic spelling of each name, as well as an explanation of the name’s meaning. “Another interesting part is that majority of the meanings of the names are associated with the different affirmations,” adds Osei.
Besides the words of self-affirmation written by Osei, Yes, I am also features the vibrant artwork of Aaron Giesbrecht. His illustrations helped to ensure that, in Osei’s words, “every colour of the rainbow is represented in this book.” This was important for the author, considering his commitment to representation.
“I’m very passionate about this book because I really believe [it] is something our world needs — especially considering the climate of the world right now,” he expresses.
Shortly after releasing his book to the public, Osei already has a sense of its positive impact on readers — including one reader who is particularly important to him. “[In the book] I use my son’s name as a kid [who] says he’s smart. So now, he’s running around telling everybody that he’s smart. That’s a sense of confidence there!”
Yes, I am is available for sale on Osei’s website and on Amazon. Both sites also sell Osei’s two previous titles, Turtle in the Shell and If Not Me, Then Who? The Tale of the Little Eagle. Those who would like to purchase a signed copy of the book are encouraged to message Osei on Instagram (@iamkwameosei).