Professional News

UK's Kathy Sheppard-Jones publishes sequel celebrating uniqueness, diversity


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 21, 2022) — University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) Executive Director Kathy Sheppard-Jones continues to share her love of horses and teaching children to dream big with a new book, “You Can Do So Many Things Too!”

This sequel follows the main character, Flynn, who has a mobility impairment, around Central Kentucky as she explores careers in the horse industry, but this time she’s excited to take her friend Izzy along, whose health care needs require additional oxygen.

“We just scratched the surface in the first book. This book includes more jobs in the horse industry, and it also shows the power of relationships. Flynn’s parents want Flynn to explore and learn about employment, too,” said Sheppard-Jones.

The book takes readers along many stops, including Quillin Leather & Tack in Paris, Kentucky, to learn about halters, back to Lexington to visit a horse after surgery at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Breeders Farrier Supply for new horseshoes, and Doc Lane’s Veterinary Pharmacy where an owner picks up a pony’s prescription.

Each place shows Flynn and Izzy a new, potential career path in Kentucky’s horse industry.  

“We need children’s books that celebrate how unique and important every child is, and that every child has gifts and talents that will, one day, benefit the world of work,” said Sheppard-Jones. “Parents and families need to know that they are an important part of this journey.”

In the Commonwealth, one in three people experience disability, and that can pose a challenge in finding employment. “You Can Do So Many Things Too!” shows parents and children another way to approach understanding disability.

“While my research has emphasized transition and employment for people with disabilities, we know that purposeful opportunities to explore start at the youngest ages,” said Sheppard-Jones. “Kentucky is an Employment First state. This means that we recognize competitive integrated employment as the first and primary option for Kentuckians with disabilities. Let’s start early and dream big.”

HDI has resources to help families and caregivers plan for employment. You can find checklists for children as young as 3 years old and up to 18 online here.

“Writing the second book is also for our amazing early childhood staff at the Human Development Institute,” said Sheppard-Jones. “And a thank you to Brittany Granville, who continues to provide dazzling illustrations. The words are secondary to the beauty of Brittany’s storytelling through the pictures. The whole effort benefits from Nancy Savage’s editing prowess.”

The book is currently available as an accessible online PDF to allow different ways for kids to interact with the literature. Softcover copies are available for preorder through the HDI online bookstore, and copies will be provided to child care centers around the state.

Development of the book project and the first set of books was supported through HDI. You can learn more about HDI and the resources it provides to Kentuckians here.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.