( Photo / Contributed )
Monica Young (left) and Dr. Dee Dupree Bennet (right) with TRoy and SHORT at SHORT’s birthday celebration.
Troy University is helping celebrate SHORT the Squirrel’s first birthday party this Feb. 22.
SHORT is a children’s graphic book series aimed to help students in environments where children are not usually entertained, such as a courtroom or doctor’s office.
SHORT was created by professors and Troy alumnae Monica Young and Dee Dupree Bennet whose goals were to entertain children in unlikely places.
SHORT’s first book is made for the courtroom and it helps teach children about court systems in Alabama through engaging activities. The duo also has a book doctors’ offices in the works, too.
“We have made 7,000 copies of SHORT and distributed 3,500 to courtrooms already,” said Sierra Champion, a senior communication major from Trussville, Alabama. “There were 100 sent to each county, and the rest are made to eventually replace the originals.”
During SHORT’s first year, the project has been well received by students and teachers across the state.
“We have had two events already before COVID-19, one in Cary Woods Elementary in Auburn, Alabama,” Bennet said.
“There were about 20 children between the ages of 4-9 and we could tell they enjoyed the character by how their faces lit up and their engagement in the work.”
Teachers are enthusiastic about SHORT, as well, because it helps children better understand the material that they might normally find boring.
For SHORT’s first birthday, professors Bennet and Young have been active in videoing SHORT with various people such as Gary Brooks, T-Roy, cheerleaders, and Gov. Kay Ivey.
They shared their hope is to bring the book to life and involve students during the pandemic.
Troy University’s Pied Pipers have also stepped in to wish SHORT a happy birthday in the video.
Since this is being sent to schools during the pandemic, the professors have also planned for a lesson plan to go along with the video for teachers.
SHORT’s move into the virtual world, coupled with a lesson plan will let more students be involved than before.
“Although this is not a creation of Troy University, the university has remained involved in helping fund and support SHORT,” Bennet said.
“Troy Professors David VanBuskirk and Ed Noriega have been main factors in managing risks and finding funds for SHORT’s success.”
You can explore more about SHORT at shortthesquirrel.com where there are also weekly children’s book reviews and help for teachers.