Turning the Pages with Norgenta Lata

May 23 2024.

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British author Norgenta Lata is an NHS Mental Health Professional with a wealth of experience in Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services. With a Master's degree in Psychological Sciences, Norgenta's dedication extends to advocating for trauma-informed responses to sexual and domestic abuse. As a member of the Awareness and Response to Domestic and Sexual Abuse (ARDSA) network, she actively works to shape policy and practice within the NHS.

Beyond her professional endeavours, Norgenta is also a passionate author committed to raising awareness on important issues. In her latest book, "Use Your W.I.T.S!", illustrated by Ishan Vidyarantha, she educates children on body safety in a simple and engaging manner. Join Norah and Joni as they navigate the concept of setting boundaries and responding to unsafe situations. With additional resources and discussion points, Norgenta encourages adults to facilitate meaningful conversations with children about body safety, boundaries, and consent. 

Q WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? The drive did not come from wanting to become a published author per se, but more so from the messages I wanted to convey through my books. I’m a strong believer in teaching children not what to think but how to think. I want my books to be used by parents, carers, and educators as tools to spark conversation with children, educate them on identifying and communicating their feelings and ultimately equip them with skills to increase their emotional intelligence.  

Working in mental health, there is an emphasis on education. Teaching individuals about the mechanisms of the brain and the theory of why as humans we behave the way we do is the fundamental groundwork before any change can even be considered. I want such information to be accessible and to be taught to children because having knowledge, brings awareness. And awareness is the catalyst for change.

The inspiration for  Use Your W.I.T.S!  stemmed from my experience working with children and parents in the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services in the UK where I saw the ambivalence around teaching children body safety without cultivating fear of others. For this reason, I wrote Use Your W.I.T.S! to be used as a guide to help with such teachings. The character Norah shows how she recognises safe touch and unsafe touch, sets boundaries at times when she simply does not wish to be touched and shows how to respond to situations where she feels unsafe by using her W.I.T.S.

Q CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO BECOMING A PUBLISHED AUTHOR? I created Psychresources which provides activity books for children with the purpose of promoting mental health education. I saw the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had, with the increase of mental health difficulties rising amongst children and felt it was important to focus on early intervention through the use of educational activity books to help manage anxiety and enhance self-esteem. This is where it all started!

My experience working with children and parents inspired me to create these activity books as I saw that the anxiety management sessions I used to teach in schools were reserved for a small number of children (due to a lack of resources) For this reason I used these sessions and created an activity book with evidence-based techniques that guide children to identify, manage and communicate anxiety to ensure that anyone and everyone could access this information. This one book (‘Standing Up to The Anxiety Monster’) then led to collections of them!

The collection of activity books covers topics of: anxiety management, self-esteem, mindfulness, social skills, empathy and now body safety with the introduction of our first published book: Use Your W.I.T.S!

Q DESCRIBE YOUR NOVEL IN ONE SENTENCE AS IF YOU WERE TELLING A FRIEND. A guide that can be used for both adults and children, helping to navigate discussions on the important issues of body safety, consent and boundaries.

Q WHERE DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FOR YOUR STORIES OR CHARACTERS? My inspiration comes from people and places that are meaningful for me even when not necessarily related to the storyline. The illustrations of the mum, sister, teacher and doctor in my book are based on real-life people, people who have made me feel validated and safe, beautifully illustrated by Ishan Vidyarantha.

Q WHAT ARE YOU  CURRENTLY READING? I am currently reading 1 in 4 Women by Sandra Reddish. It’s a powerful yet compassionate book outlining the many, different aspects of domestic abuse, demystifying common misconceptions and empowering women to selfvalidate. It has been used as a tool that guides the survivors' programme, designed for survivors of domestic abuse that delves deep into the complexities of abuse.

Q TELL US ABOUT A BOOK YOU ENJOYED READING AS A  CHILD AND THE EFFECT IT HAD ON YOU. ‘We are going on a bear hunt’ by Michael Rosen. The line “We can’t go over it, we can’t go over it, we have to go through it” comes to mind every so often especially during challenging moments- a great mantra! As a child I won a poetry competition and was presented an award by Michael Rosen himself, more recently I met him again at an exhibition and had the opportunity to tell him about Use Your W.I.T.S! which was a great full circle moment!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Tina Edward Gunawardhana is a journalist specialising in travel, fashion, lifestyle, cuisine and personalities. She is also the Deputy Editor for Hi!! Magazine. An intrepid traveller, she likes to show readers the world through her eyes and experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - tinajourno [email protected]

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