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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 25 October, 2014

Minister backs graphic novel promoting emotional intelligence in teens

Kevin Kelly’s ‘Xceptionalise’ hopes to encourage greater emotional intelligence, which in turn may lower suicide rates.

Ruairi Quinn says Kevin Kelly's book could help young people to reach more mature decisions about their desired careers.
Ruairi Quinn says Kevin Kelly's book could help young people to reach more mature decisions about their desired careers.

EDUCATION MINISTER Ruairí Quinn has given his backing to a graphic novel aimed at instilling greater emotional intelligence in teenagers in a bid to improve the mental health of younger generations.

‘Xceptionalise’, written by Kevin Kelly and illustrated by Rebecca Burgess, is aimed at children from sixth class onwards, and is drawn entirely through the Japanese manga style in an attempt to attract younger readers.

“Initially we must speak to students in a language and style that is modern and non-invasive,” Kelly said. “In this case the story is illustrated using manga cartoons, the first of its kind for this type of book worldwide.

“The benefit of this style is that young people will read and indeed relate to it better.”

The book tells the story of Nathan, a teenager who faces emotional questions as he tries to decide what to do with his life, facing opposition from his parents as he tries to pursue his chosen career.

Kelly says that the topic of emotional intelligence should be taught to teenagers of all ages, from sixth class and throughout secondary school, and that moves should be made to have all student teachers given training in how to deal with emotional matters.

“This shouldn’t be a subject where the first person that puts up their hands are invited to teach it,” Kelly, a motivational speaker by trade, believes. “To truly have impact in this field you should be a living example of the content.

“This isn’t just another subject. There is a huge potential return on investment as students would also be job ready when they finish their schooling.”

The book’s teaching method has won the blessing of education minister Ruairí Quinn, who said the book could help to improve recent statistics which showed that only 15 per cent of students filling out a CAO form were sure about the career they wanted to pursue.

“This book will help students highlight and unleash their talents. Furthermore it fits in very well with the proposed reforms to the Junior Cert.

“Considering that many agree that the medium is the message – this unique, visionary style very much honours its target audience and delivers key information in an engaging way.”

The book is available in bookshops or directly from Amazon.

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