Alumnus’s graphic novel seeks to inspire children with learning disabilities

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“Nelson Beats The Odds”

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work alumnus has authored a graphic novel that he hopes will inspire children with learning disabilities and help destigmatize special education.

In “Nelson Beats The Odds,” Ronnie Sidney II (M.S.W.’14/SW)  tells the story of a boy named Nelson who is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and placed in special education, but who overcomes his disability and eventually studies social work in college and graduates at the top of his class.

Sidney, who received a master’s degree in social work from VCU in 2014, spent seven years in special education while growing up in Tappahannock, Virginia. “Nelson Beats The Odds,” he said, is written for children in a similar situation today.

“When I was in special education, there were no books, movies or cartoons with characters with learning disabilities or ADHD, so I felt alone,” he said. “I never talked to my friends, parents or teachers about it. I wanted to write a book that inspired kids diagnosed with disabilities and lets them know that they are not their disability.”

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