After being diagnosed as learning disabled and spending five years in special education, the last thing Ronnie Sidney, II, MSW thought he would become was an author. “When I graduated high school my goal was to become the next Puff Daddy. I wanted to own a record label, throw lavish parties and live the high life,” said Sidney. That all changed when Sidney switched his major from Business Management to Human Services at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. “Helping people came easy,” Sidney explained, “My father is a minister, my sister is a social worker and my mother is a nurse. I guess it runs in the family.”
Sidney, an author, therapist and entrepreneur, hails from Tapphannock, VA, otherwise known as the home of Chris Brown. On August 21, 2015, Sidney self-published Amazon best-seller Nelson Beats the Odds, a semiautobiographical comic book about a young man who struggles with the stigma of being placed in special education. Since releasing Nelson Beats the Odds, Sidney has been featured on MicheLA, Fox and Friends Weekend and NBC 12 News. Last week he released Nelson Beats the Odds: Compendium One, which includes his second graphic novel Tameka’s New Dress. The compendium gives readers a chance to experience Nelson Beats the Odds and Tameka’s New Dress in one thrilling graphic novel.
After graduating with his Bachelor of Science in Human Services, Sidney took a job at the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck Community Services Board. “It was my first, real job. I didn’t know much about being a therapist but I knew I was passionate about working with troubled teenagers,” explains Sidney. In school Sidney struggled academically and behaviorally. He spent five years in special education after being diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Specific Learning Disability (SLD). Sidney enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Social Work program in 2011 to learn how to better serve at-risk youth. In 2015 Sidney self-published Nelson Beats The Odds , a graphic novel about a young man who struggles with the stigma of being placed in special education. The book became a platform for Sidney to share his childhood experiences and bring attention to the plight of students with disabilities.
“I want Nelson Beats The Odds to resonate with young people, particularly African American males and students with learning disabilities,” Sidney said, “I was in special education and I know exactly how it feels to be stigmatized and labeled.”
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