Inspiring the Valley: How a Clovis teacher and student raise the spirits of kids will illnesses

Inspiring the Valley
May 04 2021 05:30 pm

Being sick isn’t fun for anybody, but when you’re a child, fighting an illness you don’t understand, it can be especially tough.

A book written by a Clovis teacher and illustrated by a student is helping kids cope with their illness.

One is an English teacher at Clovis West High School, and the other is a budding artist who attends Clovis North High School.

A desire to help someone else brought them together.

“I was honored that she liked my pictures enough to include me in such a personal project,” says Ivreese Tong, the book’s illustrator.

That personal project is a children’s book called “Tiger Livy.” Livy is Erin Garcia’s seven-year-old niece and two years ago the family faced a crisis when this bright, energetic little girl was diagnosed with a rare debilitating disease.

“So Livy was diagnosed at five-years-old with juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM),” says Erin Garcia, teacher and the book’s author.

“It is an autoimmune disorder where your muscles start getting broken down by your own body, like your own body is fighting itself so slowly all of her muscles began to erode,” she explained.

The treatment caused Livy’s checks to swell she gained lots of weight and developed stretch marks. Those stretch marks would become a symbol to help her fight her illness.

“This was sort of like the concept of where “Tiger Livy” was born and essentially her favorite animal is a tiger, and she makes a connection between what it’s like to be a tiger and the stripes that are now on her body, and she uses her imagination to think like a tiger and to be brave like a tiger,” Garcia says.

16-year-old Ivreese Tong, who has been practicing art for five years brought Livy’s story to life with pictures.

“I just hope that the pictures really help just carry the story and make it more memorable,” Tong says of the book. A story that is helping children heal

She adds, “It is exciting to know that it is helpful and people like it so it’s good the proceeds are going to the Cure JM Foundation.”

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