Libraries  |  14 Jul 2022

Passion, perseverance and patience.

These are just some of the qualities that helped Samantha Fairhall write, produce and self-publish a very special book – The Little Book of Smiles.

It took five years from inception to publication but the Canterbury University psychology student was driven by a desire to support positive mental health in young people.

“I’ve got a passion for helping people. That’s pretty much how it came about.”

The Little Book of Smiles started as a Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) business project in Samantha’s final year of high school – and finished the day she turned 21 when the book was published.

“There were five girls and we wanted to make a children’s book but found out that was already being done. So we came up with the idea of a mental health and wellbeing book.”

The group formed strong links with a number of staff at Christchurch City Libraries, including Tūranga, the central library.

They were the first YES group to be mentored at the 4th floor creativity suite Auahatanga at Tūranga and became a prototype for Libraries’ subsequent work with YES groups.

“Samantha’s project launched a very strong and continuing bond with YES,” says Christchurch City Libraries Special Projects Learning Specialist Danny McNeil.

Although the school year finished before the book was complete, when Samantha returned from a gap year working at Camp America her parents encouraged her to take up the project again.

“She had this momentum and was really passionate about it. There’s no resources out there and whenever she’d share the idea with anyone it got really positive feedback and support,” says Samantha’s mum Sharyn Fairhall.

Samantha's grandma, Gaynor Allen helped with the editing and in September 2021 Samantha celebrated her 21st birthday with a first print run of 100 copies.

It’s since been picked up by schools, community groups, counsellors and individuals, she's printed another 200 copies and is a finalist in the Young Enterprise Alumni Awards.

The target audience could be anyone, Samantha says.

“Honestly, anyone because it can be used as a resource and can also be used for a child or young person wanting to have a book or a wee diary for themselves.

“My wish is that it will provide encouragement, practical tips and hope to get through tough times.”

Visit Samantha's Instagram and Facebook pages for more details.