In the summer of 2012, I met Ken Westerfield at the US Open Overall Flying Disc Championships in Santa Barbara, California at Chase Palm Park, which is legendary for freestyle frisbee. Ken is a Hall of Famer and a legend in every sense of the word and in 2013 was inducted into the Disc Golf Hall of Fame with the following:
Ken Westerfield is an icon of disc golf and one of the strongest overall competitors in flying disc sports of all time. His powerful and accurate sidearm throw is widely acknowledged as one of the best the sport has ever seen. He was one of the top players at the emergence of organized disc golf competition. He pioneered the growth of disc golf across Canada. Many Canadian players trace their introduction to disc golf to being mentored by Ken. His contributions are a huge part of the foundation of our sport.
You can read his full history on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Westerfield.
Ken and I have kept in touch since and have talked a lot about the history of frisbee, the current state of ultimate and the future of the sport that we both love so much.
Ken also does a lot of work with rescue dogs so we connected on the dog side too, since I compete in disc competitions and hold multiple Guinness World Records with Davy Whippet.
On March 14, 2014, I received a message from Ken on Davy Whippet’s facebook page. His message is as follows:
Nice page, very sweet and funny. You should consider publishing a kids book. There’s almost enough info with pictures just on this page for one. Davy Whippet is a great name and the fact that he’s a World Champion/record holder makes a inspirational child’s book a natural. You could tie in your bulling campaign as well. Davy’s a small slight dog and was always bullied by the bigger dogs. Then he found Frisbee and was way better at it than the other dogs because they were to big and heavy and slow. The message to the kids being that everyone has something that they can excel at, they just have to believe in themselves and see through the crap, maybe not in those words. Not a unique message, but it always works as long as the theme is different. There is a lot of potential here for your program.
I had been thinking about doing something already because Davy is such a character and is an incredible athlete so when Ken sent this message, it started the wheels in motion immediately and I instantly saw the potential for a children’s book.
From there, I approached Olyn Ozbick with the idea of creating this children’s book. A widely published writer of fiction and non-fiction, Olyn has won numerous awards for editing and publishing. She and I met through dog disc. Olyn has a crazy blue-eyed border collie who, like Davy, loves Frisbee. Olyn also has two children and understands the importance of children’s books and positive messages.
Olyn and I spent a lot of time talking about this book, working to figure out the best way we could help children solve problems with bullies and form healthy friendships. We read books and papers, attended talks, met with parents, teachers and principals. I spent hundreds of hours in schools, from elementary up to high school. I did assemblies and spoke to kids.
We wanted to get it right. It’s a hard problem. We wondered: How can we start making a change?
The word ‘start’ was a key. So we decided the book should be written for younger children. Kids just starting out in school and learning new concepts.
When Lais Rumel joined the team, she brought her knowledge of how to help children with bully issues through her training in education and experience as an elementary school teacher. Lais talked about solutions educators were using in early education. One of these used an idea called The Golden Rule: to treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s a good rule. We all liked it. But was it really helping?
Then I got an exciting idea. “We need to change it,” I said. “Turn it around and make it a new rule that works in our new world.” And The Davy Rule was born.
Simply put, The Davy Rule is: treat others the way that they want to be treated. It’s about getting to know the other person. Even if they are different. It’s important to embrace those differences.
So Olyn started to write. Davy became the main character and lots of other dogs were added to the story. Fun sounds were created for kids to make as they read.
With all of that crazy dog stuff going on, I suggested that we ask Shannon Darch to illustrate. Shannon is well known for her exceptional and delightful dog illustrations which are commissioned internationally. Shannon is a super busy Illustrator, we hoped she would have time to work with us. When she said yes, we were elated.
The team was complete.
The result is a children’s book that is beautiful, fun to read and helpful to parents, children and educators.
We can’t wait to bring this book to the world. To help inspire and teach kids how to treat others with respect, love and kindness.