PEI

Anti-bullying P.E.I. potato travelling the world

Darlene Lund created the literary figure Friendly the Spud in 2012 as she was teaching mental-health first aid as part of her job in social work.

Monk taking 'fun story with a great message' back to Taiwan

P.E.I. monks have enthusiastically embraced Friendly the Spud and his message of inclusion and compassion. (About Monks/Facebook)

A literary and plush potato figure, Friendly the Spud from P.E.I., is spreading a message of inclusion and acceptance around the world.

Darlene Lund created Friendly in 2012 as she was teaching mental-health first aid as part of her job in social work. Spud stands for "supporting people's unique differences," the author said. 

"A lot of people talked about their mental-health diagnosis at that time and the stigma they were feeling," Lund told Mainstreet's Angela Walker.

"It was about opening up that conversation about accepting people regardless of their differences." 

'A great message'

Spud became the star of Lund's book about bullying, The Friendly Book, aimed at children in Grades 4 or 5 — but she said the story is for everyone.

P.E.I. author Darlene Lund with her book and plush versions of Friendly the Spud. (Angela Walker/CBC)

"The story goes, Friendly is at an all-potato school, but then the onions show up," she explained. "It works out OK in the end, everyone is friends, so it's a fun story with a great message." 

Lund has also created a plush Friendly potato character.

"My vision is for Friendly to travel the world, which he has been doing," Lund said, noting she sold the books and toys at a Charlottetown farmers market this summer to customers from Canada, Russia and China.

Trip to Taiwan

After Lund gave P.E.I.'s Buddhist monks a copy of the book and 35 of the plush toys, they took an interest in the story. They liked the concepts of inclusion, compassion and empathy for others, she said. 

A P.E.I. monk has some fun with a plush Friendly the Spud. (About Monks/Facebook )

A volunteer helped translate the book and the monks circulated it in their monastery in Heatherdale, P.E.I. The monks have posted photos of themselves with the soft toys, noting that one monk is now taking a Spud toy and the message back to Taiwan "to share with more kids." 

Lund hopes to raise funds so she can donate Friendly plush toys to people "so they never have to feel alone again," the author said on her Facebook page. 

People can purchase the book online at FriendlytheSpud.com or on Friendly's Facebook page

There are currently 275 Buddhist monks and 150 Buddhist nuns studying on P.E.I. Nuns and monks enter the monastic study for a 14-year program. 

A volunteer helped translate the book, and P.E.I.'s monks circulated it in their monastery. (About Monks/Facebook )

With files from CBC Radio: Mainstreet's Angela Walker

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