Illinois State University will have a part in a presentation to the United Nations later this month.

Image of cover of Forget Me Not, a book published by the Publications Unit at Illinois StateA graphic novel produced by the University’s Publications Unit will be key to a presentation by the director of Children of the Forest, a not-for-profit agency that assists children who have been trafficked along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Though it was Publications Director Steve Halle who made the connection to create the piece, it was Illinois State students who took the lead in production.

Halle’s friend Andrew Zeal is a local artist who volunteers with Children of the Forest, a halfway house that provides education and shelter for stateless children. “Andrew traveled to the border to do an art project with the children, and came up with the idea of making a comic book with the children living in the house,” said Halle. The project grew into an informative graphic novel to tell the organization’s story. “He called me to get advice on how to self-publish a book. The project intrigued me, so I offered to donate time to help produce the graphic novel,” Halle said, “because I felt it would be a great opportunity for students.”

Upon hearing about the project, several students clamored to help, including Tess Culton, a senior publishing studies major from Carbondale. “We only had eight weeks to pull together the book from the first arrival of the text to completion,” said Culton, who worked closely with fellow student Erica Young to help create the graphic novel. “I love the fact that part of the director’s speech to the UN will be in the book.”

An image created by a child for the book Forget Me Not.

An image created by a child for the book Forget Me Not.

While editing and arranging text for Forget Me Not: Stories of Child Trafficking from the Thai-Burma Border, Culton said she was moved by the work of the organization. “I find now that I talk about Children of the Forest to my friends, my family,” she said. “It goes beyond helping to promote the book. You can feel in every page that this group believes every child deserves good schools, health care, and the knowledge to survive. By even having the chance to work on this book, I feel like I’ve been part of something important, something that has the potential to change lives.”

Children of the Forest Director Daniel Hopson will make the presentation to the UN in late October.

To reach Halle, contact Media Relations at (309) 438-5744, or