Valene is the Founder and Managing Director of a home health care agency that provides in-home personal support care across the Greater Toronto Area. With a Masters of Physical Therapy degree from Howard University, she brings over 20 years of cumulative health care industry experience.
Valene has a passion and hands-on approach to health & wellness. She has created various wellness initiatives for families ranging from school-age children to seniors in the areas of disease prevention and their management. In recent years, she has rediscovered her joy of writing and has now penned three of three bestselling children’s books. Her stories tap into what is traditionally deemed as ‘difficult to discuss topics such as health and social issues. Her stories offer insight to parents, and teachers while presenting helpful tidbits that will keep young readers engaged.
Valene is Canadian-born with deep Caribbean roots hailing from Jamaica. She shares that her heritage is rich in various art forms that include music, poetry and storytelling. “Family gatherings are the times when you hear some of the most humorous stories with the most colourful descriptions” she explains. Valene’s love and appreciation for storytelling is also a way for her to stay connected to one of her many and most treasured cultural traditions.
Valene’s Advocacy for Diverse Children’s Literature
Valene’s attention to children’s literature was heightened after her daughter was born. She began to analyze the depth to which the void of representation exists in children’s stories and wanted to make a change. She then penned The Amazing Zoe series which now boasts 3/3 bestsellers and counting. Valene aims to erase the invisibility of marginalized authors, their stories and perspectives in Canadian literature. Valene believes that literature is one of the most fundamental tools available for teaching empathy, compassion and acceptance to young developing minds.
Valene has a keen ability to create stories that are relatable and resonate with young readers and their families. Through Zou Zou Media House, her books can be found front and centre in large book retailers such as Indigo, Winners, Amazon, Barnes & Noble to name a few. As a diverse children’s literature advocate, Valene is deeply committed to ensuring all children see themselves in the stories they read. As part of an underrepresented community, her lived experiences help shape her passion to break racial barriers through impactful compositions.
Valene’s Advocacy for Alzheimer's Disease
After vacationing with her mother in 2016, Valene observed her increasing forgetfulness, confusion, and irritability. Valene knew immediately upon their return home, a family meeting needed to ensue, followed by an appointment with her family doctor. We eventually learned the dreadful news that our once jovial and fiercely independent mother was diagnosed with dementia.
After Valene’s daughter’s first birthday, she witnessed a pivotal change. She shared that her mother became more engaged with her granddaughter which in turn, sparked a unique bond. Valene recognizes her daughter is far too young to understand the symptoms of dementia, however, she wanted to create a time piece that demonstrates the special relationship between grandparent and grandchild.
Valene expressed there is still a great deal of stigma regarding mental health and there is a need to have more of these conversations overall, but particularly within communities that have been traditionally marginalized. Studies indicate Dementia affects the Black community at an exponential rate as compared to other groups, yet dementia is on the rise for all groups. Based on the astounding number of families who are impacted, it is clear we are faced with a worldwide crisis. Valene saw the need to offer support to children through a children’s book that explains dementia, and offers comfort while navigating through a difficult time.
No, not at all. I’ve always enjoyed independent class assignments or school research projects, however the creative style of my writing came from writing the occasional skits in church. I chose a career in health care, however, creative writing was always something I’ve had in the back of my mind.
I always begin with a topic of interest and I also think of how I may provide answers to questions people actually want to know. I always seek ways I may provide value to my readers, while making it a fun and enjoyable experience.
As a woman of colour, I have been made aware of the underrepresentation of Black voices in literature from a young age and after my daughter was born, it became even more apparent. As I began to grow her library, I saw very few lead characters who looked like her, and even fewer children’s books that were written by Black authors. I then realized, I had something to contribute. I was inspired by my little one and overall I just want to see a change with how children (who later grow into adults) relate to others who look different than they do.
When I wrote the first book of ‘The Amazing Zoe’ series, I couldn’t imagine that I would possibly have more to write about. I’ve noticed, once you start writing, your ideas continue to grow and your writing style continues to evolve. As long as those ideas come to mind, I plan on continuing to write.
I would love to visit! Tell your parents, teachers, school principal or librarian about me. I love visiting with young readers I am even more accessible through virtual visits. Feel free to send me an email or you can book me directly from my website.
I do! I have my darling poodle/yorkie mix dog and his name is Bo. He’s bee my bestie for about 8 years now.
I’m so glad that you enjoy my books, however, I am unable to give them away for free. You can access them through any bookstore, large retailer or even your local library. Sign up for my newsletter, I occasionally offer giveaways, or free ebooks for a limited time on Amazon.