The slowest can also win races. Being born in poverty or unfavorable circumstances is not the final verdict, and the game is wide open. This strong message flows through the new children’s book, “Begin Your Race Being Tortoise” by acclaimed motivational speaker, Ar’Marlon Barbour.
The fable of the tortoise and the hare is known to every kid. What isn’t very obvious is the important message the story holds for many at-risk children, who struggle each waking day. Ar’Marlon has used the fable to give it a new character and appeal.
Barbour began storytelling this book in 2004 to middle and high school students in College Prep Summer Camps at his Alma Mater, West-Chester University. The initiative was sponsored by GEAR-UP, an acronym which means Gaining Educational Awareness and Readiness For Undergraduate Programs, which is located in Chester County Pennsylvania, 45 minutes from Philadelphia, PA.
Ar’Marlon’s goal is to “Teach Hope” through this children’s book to teens as well as kids. In this story, the tortoise is no ordinary tortoise, but comes to life as ‘Tough Terry’, the Hip-Hop Tortoise, as Barbour’s goal is to use this life sized Mascot to “Edutain” students using music and visual arts as a conduit to empower students in critical thinking and decision making. Tough Terry also spreads messages of hope with his famous “Tough Now” motto, which hangs around his neck in the form of a Medallion.
In the US, many kids do not make a beginning in bright and clean surroundings. In 2016, 20% of kids were living below the federal poverty line, and over 600,000 were in foster care. In Black and Hispanic communities, the rates are even higher ranging as high as 30% children below the poverty line.
“My book is relevant in today’s times, when so many kids are being bullied and committing suicide as well as suffering from body shaming,” says Ar’Marlon.
After growing up in foster care facilities and out-of-placement, Barbour understands the power that storytelling can have for educating and inspiring disadvantaged youth, as he was inspired by speakers such as Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III, Famed Educator/Advocate (a Birmingham, AL, native) and Lenny Moore (2 times NFL champion & Hall of Famer). Barbour, a former high school basketball star turned motivational speaker, has also co-hosted (with 12 year NFL Veteran, Gary Burley) shows like “Cooking With The Pro’s”, and “How To Prepare Student Athletes for College”.
“My book will help kids understand the importance of attaining the values and character strengths that are needed to live and win in life, despite their circumstances,” said Barbour. “It can help them with any decision making, critical thinking, or self-esteem issues they’re dealing with.”
At-risk kids can be the dictator of their own lives and destinies. Toward this aim, the book is fun, educational and emphatic. Parents, librarians and educators can use the book to positively change children’s lives. Ar’Marlon wants to empower other children to realize their full potential and not let their situation in life keep them down.
Ar’Marlon knows what struggle means personally, and has used his resourcefulness, athletic ability, communication skills and leadership skills to create his own destiny. He is now passing on his story of inspiration to inspire other students to realize the endless possibilities in front of them. Although the book is meant for children to read, the core message is really something that anyone of any age can benefit from.
“Begin Your Race Being Tortoise” is currently available exclusively on Barbour’s, www.BeginYourRaceBeingTortoise.com.