Orlando-area author helps children better understand Pulse tragedy

'My Tío's PULSE' shares story of community's response to attack

By Carolina Cardona - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Whenever a tragic event takes place, it can be difficult for parents to explain it to their children, but one Central Florida author is working to make that easier.

An Orlando-area womanlearned how hard those conversations can be when she had to speak with her 13-year-old son about the attack at Pulse nightclub two years ago that left 49 people dead.

"As a parent, that's a conversation that you never want to have," Jennifer Parker said. "You never want to have to discuss tragedy and pain and suffering of others." 

Like so many others, Keith Newhouse was affected by the tragedy at Pulse, and it made him wonder how kids would learn about the shooting.

[ORLANDO UNITED: Pulse nightclub shooting]

Newhouse said it came to him one night in his dreams: the story about a child named Angel, who learns how to take his pulse at school.

"When Tio Luis sees this, he becomes sad and Angel doesn't understand why. So he asked his parents, he asked his teacher and they won't tell him at that point," Newhouse said about the storyline. 

With help from a psychotherapist, the first-time author wrote the children's book "My Tío's PULSE."

"He gave me the right words to say. The right way to tell kids what happened. How to cope with what happened and how to feel safe again," Newhouse said. "I had no idea that it was going to be so soon or what it was going to become."

Twenty-two illustrators also helped with the creation of the book.  At 15 years old, Jacob Park is the youngest of them. He said he's grateful to have been a part of it.

"A lot of people will remember this book as ... a good way to help children, you know, go through tragedy. It's cool that I was a part of something that can positively help people when they read it," Park said.

Joel Morales serves as the community partnership developer for the Orlando United Assistance Center, which was established after the mass shooting. He said the way the book explains the tragedy is what makes it such an important resource.

"Just the beauty of the book, it shows the response and it doesn't go into details of what happened that night, but it really just opens the conversation.," Morales said. 

Morales said he believes it will help children better understand the tragedy in years to come.

"Every June 12, for like years and years, our youth is going to grow up and they're gonna know. They're gonna realize, 'Something happened here and I don't understand what it is,'" Morales said.

[MORE: Remembering the Pulse shooting victims]

Parker said she thinks communication is key.

"I think the main takeaway is communicate. Communicate with your children, be as real as you can without being, you know, overly graphic," Parker said.

Newhouse said he hopes the book will help children the way it's intended to, and even adults who may need help understanding the tragedy.

"I've had adults come up to me and say how much they love it and how much it's helping them process what happened," Newhouse said.

He also hopes to have the book translated into Spanish and wants to offer the book to schools.

Newhouse said the book was a community project, and all proceeds from it go to the Orlando United Assistance Center.

Visit MyTioPulse.com or NewHouseCreativeGroup.com to purchase the book.

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