14:04 PM

Children’s Book Author Overcoming Obstacles

Children’s Book Author Overcoming Obstacles

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Breaking down barriers is one of the themes author Debbie Estrem tackles in her children’s book, Sights at the Zoo. Estrem, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration of Technical Studies in 1999 at Bellevue University, wanted to help children understand why some people may use aids such as walkers and wheelchairs. Estrem was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2010, and hopes the book answers questions children may have.

SightsattheZoo“Children ask questions and want quick responses, which is what this book does,” Estrem said. “When doing book readings at schools, several children wanted to ride on my motorized chair or I would teach them how to drive it. It helped them to not be afraid of me or the chair. We talked about if any of them have relatives or family friends who use help to get around. Reading the book brings up the opportunity to talk about it.”

Zoo is Estrem’s second book, following Have You Ever Seen a Firefly. She collaborated with artist Kim Sponaugie on both books and published them through print-on-demand outfit Xlibris.

“I had written poems in 2003 and someone suggested that they may make a good children's book- so once I was diagnosed with MS and not able to work anymore, I was wanting something positive to talk about- was tired of talking about my health and the MS,” Estrem said. “So, I researched how to go about writing a children's book and started into the process.”

Estrem has four more books in the works all designed as easy reading for parents and children. She continues to bring a positive attitude toward her battle with MS as well.Debbie&Family

“It's very challenging and so very different with each person,” she said. “We all have to fight through it and try our best to stay positive. We are all thankful for our caregivers, therapists, doctors and CNAs (certified nursing assistant).”

Estrem began attending classes at Bellevue University in 1997 after her husband was stationed at nearby Offutt Air Force Base.

“I heard commercials on the radio daily about Bellevue's accelerated degree programs as I drove downtown to work at the YWCA every day. I had an associates degree but wanted to get my bachelor’s degree. So I checked out Bellevue University,” she explained. “My experience there was great. We were transferred to a base in Tucson, Arizona while I was still attending classes so I was able to complete my classes online. I traveled back to Bellevue for my graduation. Our daughter was in 5th grade then and I wanted her to see her Mom graduate from college.”