WOOD RIVER JCT. — The Chariho Youth Task Force is expanding its campaign to help young people develop positive body images with a new book aimed at younger children.
Published at the end of July, the “Every Body is Beautiful” book, co-written by the group’s youth ambassadors and illustrated by task force member Rebecca Fitzgerald, is directed at preschool- and elementary-aged children. The objective of the book, Executive Director Dan Fitzgerald said, is to help children develop positive body images at an early age.
“This was a way for us to introduce conversations about body positivity into the home at an early age,” he said. “It’s obviously a much larger campaign …. This is really what a lot of our ambassadors wish they’d had when they were younger.”
The book is the newest initiative of the broader campaign, begun in 2018, to dispel popular stereotypes of what bodies should look like. The task force took its message into Chariho schools with stickers, art exhibits and a showcase featuring more than 100 members of the community.
The campaign was launched by Fitzgerald, a founding task force member, who experienced negative comments about her body when she was young.
“From a young age I was always told that I would be better if there was less of me,” she said. “As someone who battles daily with my 12-year-old eating disorder, I want to set the record straight. To me, health is about so much more than a body mass index or a number on a scale. Health is about the whole person because I am so much more than a number."
The new book was first presented at a virtual reading, necessitated by coronavirus protocols. Community members were invited to read a line from the book and the video was posted on the task force's website.
“We’ll continue to have virtual aspects of it,” Dan Fitzgerald said. “We hope to have it available, high-quality photos of it and everything, so that more people can see it. Our hope is, obviously, to get it into libraries and child care centers, whenever those do start really opening up.”
The Rotary Club of Chariho is supporting the book initiative with a donation of $500 to purchase copies for local libraries. Rotary President-elect Elizabeth Pasqualini said said the club was already familiar with the other components of the body image campaign and members were happy to support the book.
“We’ve known Dan and the Chariho Youth Task Force for a while, always been really supportive of their mission and what they’re doing with youth. It’s amazing work,” she said. “So Dan had come out to speak to our club a while back and told us about this book that they were putting together, which expands on their theme. We really believed in that messaging, and so when they were looking for support to produce the book, it seemed like a really perfect fit for our club.”
Pasqualini said the book and the overall campaign were timely.
“It’s sort of what the community needs, and I think Dan and the youth task force really have their thumb on the pulse of where community need is, and find a way to make a big impact, and so that’s the kind of thing that Rotary really likes to get behind,” she said.
The book can also be purchased for $10 on the Chariho Youth Task Force website at