A local firefighter has written a children's book with an inspiring message for young Black girls.
Mario Jackson, a Cincinnati firefighter, wanted to show his two daughters they can be anything they want when they grow up.
He said it's hard to believe that when you don't often see people who look like you represented in many career fields. So he thought of a way to let young girls know that they can do jobs that are traditionally male-dominated.
"It's important to have positive representation. I wanted to create something for my daughters that gives them the encouragement that they can do whatever they want and not let anything stop them from accomplishing their dream," Jackson said.
He began working on the book in 2019 and completed it in the summer of 2020.
His journey to becoming a firefighter is another big reason behind the book.
Growing up in Dayton, Ohio Jackson never saw anyone who looked like him work as a firefighter so he never considered that he could be one. It wasn't until he got older and began visiting his older sister in Cincinnati that he saw Black firefighters and realized it was a possible career choice.
"And I absolutely love this job," Jackson said.
He knew if he had those difficulties as a young Black man, it's probably that much harder for young Black girls.
So he wrote “Nya the Great and Her Visit to the Fire House”. The main character is a young Black girl named Nya who visits her aunt, the captain of the firehouse, at work.
Nya gets a tour of the firehouse, learns the responsibilities of the job, and sees a Black woman in a leadership role.
"All I want to do is spark a flame and plant the seed that if you want to be a firefighter or any other job that's usually thought of as a men doing it, you can do it. I just want to encourage my daughters and girls like them," Jackson said.
He hopes to make an entire book series staring Nya exploring different careers. The second book he is working on will feature Nya boarding a plane and meeting a Black female pilot.
Jackson's book became available on Amazon Thursday and he's already received positive feedback from parents and teachers.
He said he's overwhelmed with how supportive people have been about the book and hopes the kids reading it gets the message.
"If a young girl sees herself represented in these books and it inspires her to be a pilot or any of these careers, that could change the whole trajectory of her life. If I could be part of that, that would be great," Jackson said.
His two daughters, age 7 and 13, have been excitedly waiting for Jackson to finish the book ever since he began working on it and we're overjoyed to see it complete.
"It's really cool to see their reaction. I think it'll mean a lot more when they get older just so I can say, 'this book is actually for you.' It was made specifically with hem in mind and for girls like them," Jackson said.
"Nya the Great and Her Visit to the Firehouse" can be purchased on Amazon.
Enquirer media partner Fox 19 contributed.