Rockford firefighter’s children’s book helps with diversity recruitment efforts

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“These are two brothers that walk to school and discuss what they want to be when they grow up,” said Bo Chaney as he described a children’s book he wrote called ‘The Adventures of Rob and Rocky’.

Chaney puts out fires for a living. He’s a 14 year veteran of the Rockford Fire Department. He recently turned his efforts towards writing and his target audience has been kids.

“I don’t want them to be older or get to a point to where they are in their 30’s or 20’s even, and thinking about what they should do,” Chaney said. In ‘The Adventures of Rob and Rocky’, the characters named after his two sons think about their possible future careers.”Kids don’t think about it until it’s too late,” said Chaney.

The book is meant to share potential careers in public service, which Chaney says kids now often overlook. “There’s so much more out there that I kind of wanted to expose kids through books,” he added.

Rob introduces Rocky to jobs like a mailman, police officer, and firefighter. Rockford Fire Recruiter Randy James says often kids forget public service is a gratifying career. His department has focused on reaching out to those kids, especially minorities.

“One of the things that we’ve noticed and what we are trying to do, is hit these kids at a younger age,” said James. “It’s very important for the public to have a fire department, a police department, public service agencies that represent them,” he said.

“For us, we obviously want our department to mimic what our city looks like,” added Rockford Police Recruiter Katy Statler. Statler believes giving back helps motivate those in public service careers, and brings fresh faces to the city.

“You get that person that comes out of nowhere, that you had nothing to do with and say, ‘you know what thank you for what you do, we really appreciate you for being out here’. That one comment makes any cops day for a long time,” she said.

Chaney says he’s sold nearly 300 books so far. Some of those were sold in Arizona, Texas, and New York. He plans to release another book where Rob and Rocky walk home from school and discuss more potential careers.

A link to more information on the book can be found here.

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