Big Wanda Safety Book – Midwest Book Tour

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Re: Children’s Author Will Visit Three Chicago Schools

CHICAGO, IL (September 24, 2012) – Co-founder of THF based in New Orleans, Mr. Happy Johnson will read The Adventures of Happy & Big Wanda at three South Side schools during a midwest book tour.

A safety advocate and children’s author, Mr. Johnson will visits his birthplace to empower local youth. Born in the Ida B. Wells housing projects – raised in foster care on the South Side, Mr. Johnson said he believes in giving back and hopes his journey inspires other people.

The Adventures of Happy & Big Wanda, illustrated by Mr. Joe Badon, teaches youth how to prepare for emergencies and natural disasters. September is National Preparedness Month.

The midwest book tour serves as a catalyst for children to discuss the importance of making a disaster plan with family, teachers and friends. When youth are equipped with basic first aid skills and basic emergency communication techniques, they help make their household safer and better prepared for the unexpected.

Mr. Johnson said: “Prior preparation prevents poor performance; that mantra applies to disasters and also doing well in school. Preparing to succeed in your educational pursuits will prepare you to succeed in life. The Big Wanda safety book underscores the importance of having a plan in place to achieve your goals.”

Monday September 24, 10:30AM: Greater Institutional AME School: 7800 S. Indiana, Chgo, IL 60619

Monday September 24, 12:30PM: Martha Ruggles Public School: 7831 S. Prairie, Chgo, IL 60619
Monday September 24, 2PM: Saint Dorothy Elementary School: 7740 S. Eberhart, Chgo, IL 60619


The Adventures of Happy & Big Wanda (ages 6-10) is a fictional picture book, set in New Orleans, about an adopted teen who plays the trumpet for his high school marching band. The main character also drives Big Wanda – the name of a rusty old pick-up truck fueled by vegetable oil. Driving to a snowball stand before the start of an unexpected storm, Happy & Big Wanda’s perennial preparedness enable them to help their neighbors in need with disaster supplies made from recycled material.

The interactive book includes a hurricane preparedness checklist, word search, fill-in-the-blank, coloring pages and safety pledge; it also serves as the curriculum core for the THF Youth Preparedness Program which has equipped thousands of youth with disaster readiness skills.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Happy Johnson drove an Emergency Response Vehicle with the K44 Disaster Relief Unit of the American Red Cross Chapter of Southeast Louisiana.

Johnson is President of Team Happy Foundation (THF) based in New Orleans, which he co-founded in December 2005 at the conclusion of his service as a first responder. The organization mobilized 10,000 volunteer hours to rebuild homes throughout the Gulf Coast and provided humanitarian relief/blankets to hospitals in Haiti.

Expanding upon its earlier mission, THF mentors youth and advances family literacy by creating books about disaster preparedness and wetland restoration. The displacement of children recalled Johnson’s adolescent journey in foster care, fueling his desire to help sustain the “Soul of America” for future generations. Author of The Adventures of Big Wanda and co-host of GoNOLA TV, his favorite activity is coaching junior league basketball (2009 to present).

TIME Magazine profiled Johnson’s leadership in the national high school history textbook: Civics Today. A former White House Intern, he has a B.A. from Georgetown University. 

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Media Contact:, Janell Brown (504)315-5084

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