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Children's book “Kaal Tackles Eczema” aims to help families manage skin condition

Rhiannon Clarke -

Eczema affects a significant number of Aboriginal children residing in urban regions, with nearly 20 per cent being affected by this common skin condition.

The Koolungar Moorditj Healthy Skin project, along with community members, has introduced a new children's book called Kaal Tackles Eczema, designed to assist Indigenous children and parents in managing the skin condition.

The main goal of this initiative is to improve the knowledge and awareness of children and families about eczema, which is a common inflammatory skin condition in children.

Community Advisory Group representative Joanne Hill said the story revolves around a young proud Noongar boy named Kaal and his experiences following the discovery of eczema on his arm by his mother.

"The storybook aims to help children feel more confident about talking to someone about any concerns they have about their skin, see a doctor if they need to and are encouraged to follow their skincare regime to support healthy skin," she said.

"It also reinforces the messages for parents to trust their judgement, as most parents have a pretty good idea about what skin conditions need to be checked.

"We prioritised piecing the storybook together through rhyming, keeping children and their families engaged in the messaging. The storybook also contains evidence based clinical advice for parents and links to additional resources on healthy skin."

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The book, which features local Noongar language, focuses on courage, resilience, and strong families. Kaal encourages children to speak to an adult about their skin and reminds parents to seek medical advice.

"Language is an important part of Aboriginal culture," said Ms Hill.

"We felt strongly as community members that we would showcase our language throughout the storybook to help children and their families connect to the story and support the increase of the use of Noongar language."

The community came together to develop the book in partnership with the Koolungar Moorditj Healthy Skin project, Aboriginal Elders, and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).

Aboriginal Project Officer Jacinta Walton explained that the book targets Indigenous children due to the fact that while eczema affects urban Aboriginal children at the same rate as non-Aboriginal children, there is a lack of culturally appropriate health promotion materials to help Aboriginal children learn about eczema and effectively managing it.

"We wanted to create a resource that children and their families could relate to, and that would support them to better understand the importance of healthy skin," said Ms Walton.

"Although our primary target audience is Aboriginal children, we hope this resource will support all children and their families understand more about and better manage eczema and be an opportunity for non-Aboriginal kids and families to learn some Noongar language."

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