Two former MVNU students reunited years after graduation to create a children’s book to advocate change.
Lori Magana and Phyllis Dillard are using their God-given skills of writing and illustrating to collaborate on a project they hope will speak out and positively impact the world around them.
“Waterdrop Waterdrop” is written for pre-school through second grade but is great for any wishing to “advocate change,” they said.
The book, released Oct. 5, is available on Amazon and in select bookstores.
The inspirational story behind the book shows how God can bring experience and passion together.
Magana and Dillard met as freshmen in the halls of Pioneer South in 1981.
They quickly formed a bond that they would keep even after Magana transferred to Northwestern University in 1984.
Dillard graduated from MVNU in 1985 with a degree in journalism and became an illustrator and graphic designer. She eventually formed an independent publishing company, Word Spigot Publishing, in central Ohio.
Magana continued her education and became a doctor of physical therapy working in Charleston, West Virginia.
The “Waterdrop” project came about as a result of an environmental crisis in Magana’s state. The Elk River chemical spill dumped 7,500 gallons of hazardous industrial chemicals into the local water supply, altering the lives of thousands and inspiring a unique children’s book.
The Jan. 9, 2014, catastrophe cut off clean water to over 300,000 residents in the region. The chemicals entered the river about a mile upstream of the local water treatment and supply center.
As a result, residents in nine counties could not drink, cook with or shower in the water. During this time Magana was not permitted to use the water in her home for seven days.
However, because of health concerns she did not use her water for six weeks. Instead, she collected rainwater to sustain her needs.
Because she was diligent about health and frustrated with the situation, she went to advocacy groups, seminars and town hall meetings to learn more about protecting and preventing interaction with contaminated water.
She also bought purifiers and filters to clean her water.
Before this, she had “trusted that regulations were in place and were enforced by local government agencies,” she said.
However, after the spill she learned that the facility had not been inspected for more than a decade.
To make a statement, Magana decided to bake. She baked cookies in the shape of water droplets and iced them with blue frosting.
She often left boxes of these cookies at the statehouse with the slogan “Protect our water” iced on them. She earned the name “The Cookie Lobbyist.”
Magana referred to the cookies as her “shield” and used them to “start conversations with legislators about water protection.”
She then developed a social media campaign, using children’s artwork. Senators and activists quickly began sharing her posts and taking the artwork to committee meetings.
Two years after the spill, Magana decided to take her efforts a step further and help kids gain a voice for clean water, marking the beginning of the book “Waterdrop Waterdrop.”
But, Magana needed help. So, she reached out to her friend and former roommate from MVNU.
Together, they created Waterdrop and her sidekick dog who “shield pure water drops and blue streams from black stinky invaders.”
Magana wrote the words to inspire others while Dillard accompanied them with colorful watercolor drawings to capture the attention of multiple generations.
Magana said she hopes this book will inspire the young minds, “our future industry leaders and legislators, to get involved in helping to shape their culture and environment.”
Magana and Dillard hope to see a copy of the book in every elementary school library in West Virginia and eventually across the country.