What do you do if you find a lonely monster in your neighbourhood?
Help them make friends, and tell their story in a children’s book.
That’s what happened to Western Australia’s City of Belmont, which won the 2019 National Award for Local Government Creating Vibrant and Cohesive Communities Through the Arts category for its Adventures of the Belmonsters.
The mythical Belmonsters live in the City of Belmont, but don’t venture from their home until they meet a new friend, a young boy, who encourages the Belmonsters to play and explore their local area.
“The creation of the Belmonsters book by the Library and Heritage team and Community Wellbeing team, along with members of our community, shows the fantastic contribution Local Government plays in building happy, healthy and engaged communities,” City of Belmont CEO, John Christie, said.
“The Adventures of the Belmonsters was the result of a community project organised by the Community Placemaking Department.”
Sally De La Cruz, the City’s Coordinator of Community Wellbeing, said community members met over 12 weeks to help produce the book aimed at six to 12-year-olds.
Author Bailey Bosch and illustrator Cameron Aitkenhead then worked with the participants to bring the book to life.
The book, and appearances by the Belmonsters mascots at library programs and city events has resulted in the community, particularly its children, gaining a better understanding of their local area, and inspired children to read and explore.
“Just recently, a mother of a young family proudly informed the City’s Manager Community Placemaking, Natasha Griggs, that her children had carefully planned a full-day of their school holidays to bike ride around the City to visit the various places mentioned in the Belmonsters book,” CEO Christie said
“The day started with a visit to Signal Hill and the skate park, followed by a picnic at Volcano Park, and a rest stop at the library to select more books to read for the holidays.
“The mother was thrilled to enjoy a wonderful day out with her children and wanted to thank the City for encouraging kids to get active.”
Another aspect of the book and its creation was that it involved members of the community who are hearing-impaired, Ms De La Cruz added.
“We partnered with Visibility WA to turn it into an audio book.”
Mr Christie said the City has other projects underway to build upon the original story, including the launch of another Belmonsters book in 2020 for another generation of young readers.
“The City of Belmont is committed to providing and achieving positive learning outcomes for our community and this award recognises the important role local government has in providing life-long learning through arts and cultural activities.”
Image: Rosita the Belmonster (centre) with City of Belmont CEO John Christie (left) and Manager Community Place Making Natasha Griggs (right). Photo courtesy City of Belmont.
Read about other 2019 NALG winners: