Storytelling Week: Power in Representation with Atinuke Awe

Picture of Atinuke Awe, founder of Learning with Ez, Mums and Tea, and Five X More. Atinuke is a black woman with short black hair. She is looking out to the distance with a smile.

Be bold! Sometimes telling your story can be daunting and scary at first, but keep at it. If you have the power to impact just one life with the power of telling your story then you have changed the world!

Atinuke Awe

We spoke to Hatch graduate, Atinuke Awe, about the benefits of representation in storytelling.

Atinuke has experienced the power of  storytelling as an activist and entrepreneur, by talking about her own experiences, as well as founding Learning with Ez, Mums and Tea, and co-founding of Five X More CIC.

She told us that, among other things, the main benefits she’s seen with increased representation in storytelling include:

  • Increased confidence in children who can see themselves in everyday situations
  • Increasing diversity of thought so we don’t read stories by the same types of authors with the same characters 
  • Providing information in a way that is reflective and inclusive for everyone

Atinuke has changed so many people’s lives, particularly black birthing people and parents of neurodiverse children, creating communities that feel safe, heard, and able to take action to encourage more inclusive and equitable spaces.

Graphic reads: Annual reporting shows an increase in the number of children's books published featuring a minority ethnic character... 4% in 2017, and 20% in 2021.
Graphic reads: But these statistics show there is still a long way to go, with the report making clear that characters with agency, who are identifiable, relatable, nuanced, varied and are central to the narrative are still lacking throughout early years publications.

See our interview with Atinuke below to learn more about the power of representation in storytelling.

Q: What is the story behind Learning with Ez?

Learning with Ez started out from frustration of not being able to find adequate resources that accurately reflected my child in the learning materials I was getting for him.

“I remember distinctly trying to find a poster that had images of body parts to teach my son about his head, nose, etc., and only finding posters with white images.

“I wanted to do something to change this, as I knew that the frustration I felt must have been felt by many other parents out there too.”

Picture of Tinuke Awe, Timi Merriman-Johnson, and Sonya Barlow at a Hatch networking event.
Atinuke Awe, Timi Merriman-Johnson, and Sonya Barlow at a Hatch networking event

(Read their expert advice on social media here.)

Q: Why is representation so important?

I believe everyone should be represented at every level in all levels of society, so not only can people see themselves reflected, but also to see what the world around them genuinely looks like.

“You can’t be what you can’t see, so representation means everything, especially to children in their early years.

“If you are not adequately represented in the world you live in, its hard to aspire to greatness, because there is no example to follow.

“It’s important that children are represented in story telling to boost their feelings of self worth and competency.”

Q: How does Learning with Ez support the notion of representation?

At learning with Ez, representation is at the heart of everything we do.

“For a very long time our communities have been under-served and underrepresented in story telling.

“You only need to look at the stats from CLPE to understand what I mean.

“Through our characters and imagery, we show that children from diverse backgrounds are also important and shouldn’t be left out of the narrative.

“We put them front and centre of what we do, so that our materials are as inclusive as possible so that we can better serve the community and increase representation in the early years sector.

There are so many benefits of increasing representation in storytelling, including increasing confidence in children and diversity of thought, as well as providing information in a reflective and inclusive way.

Picture of Tinuke Awe on stage. Tinuke is a black woman with short black hair.
Atinuke Awe during a Hatch pitch competition

Q: How have you witnessed the impact of storytelling?

I believe in the power of story telling and have seen the huge benefit this has on society in terms of being authentic and speaking your truth.

“Outside of Learning with Ez, I co-founded an organisation called Five X More CIC, campaigning to improve Black maternal health outcomes in the UK.

“I found that in the beginning when we started, highlighting my experiences and telling my story of giving birth not only captured peoples attention, but gave them something to relate to.

“We get a lot of support from people who relate to the power of our storytelling and are able to help many women with the work we do.”

Tell us your story!

Are you a graduate from one of our programmes? We'd love to share your story for our ten year anniversary celebrations!

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