Not Just a Princess - Proud dad Gavin gives insight into his blog

By Aideen O'Flaherty

THERE aren’t many fathers who can say that they have seen their daughter become a fire fighter, a zoo keeper and a dentist by the time they turned 21-months-old, but Tallaght man Gavin Leonard is making sure his daughter Jade has no limitations on her ambitions, and he’s documenting it on his blog, Not Just a Princess.

Gavin, who lives in Rathcoole with Jade and his wife Shannon, started the blog in response to well-meaning people who remarked that Jade could be a child model or a princess, and he realised that the way little girls are praised tends to centre on their appearance, unlike little boys who can be soldiers or spies.

Jade Gavin and Shannon

Jade, Gavin and Shannon

Not Just a Princess was started a year ago and has already gained thousands of followers on Facebook, with the weekly blog posts showing the adventures that Jade goes on and the different careers she has experienced, showing that little girls can be anything that they want to be.

Gavin, who is past pupil of St Mark’s Community School in Springfield, told The Echo about a mammoth 14-hour journey that he and has family undertook to get to a book launch in London in the midst of Storm Emma, and his future plans for his innovative blog.

What prompted you to start your blog, Not Just A Princess?

I started the blog a year ago. I was working a lot while Shannon was pregnant, and then when Jade was born I would work while she and Shannon were asleep. Then, I ended up having a health scare and decided that I should be spending more time with my family. For the first year after Jade was born people kept saying how she was quite pretty, how she could be a singer or a dancer, but there would never be a mention of a career. So, I started telling people she would be a ninja!

What has the response to the blog been like?

Really good. We’ve got over 11,000 followers on Facebook and we get a lot of comments from all over the world. At the start there were a lot of dads saying that they’d love to do something like this, but they don’t have the time. Now there are lots of mams who are interested in the blog too.

Jade has already experienced a number of careers, has she decided what she wants to be when she grows up?

No, not at all. She’s too young to really ‘get it’. But in all of the studies I’ve looked at, they said that the years from zero to four are the most formative years of a child’s life. We’re just trying to show that hopefully there won’t be a need for gender bias. We’re trying to get Jade to experience as many careers as possible.

You went on a mammoth 14-hour trip to London to meet the two authors who wrote the Rebel Girls books, when they were launching their latest book. Can you tell me a bit about Rebel Girls?

The books have stories of women through history, including modern history with people like Beyoncé and Serena Williams, but also women like Florence Nightingale. We read the books to our daughter and she really likes the pictures. We said we’d go to the book launch, because we wanted to support the people who we had supported through their crowd-funding campaign.

What happened on your journey to London?

We ended up having to get a boat to Holyhead, then we drove down to Birmingham but then the Beast from the East was getting really bad, so we got the train from there to London. It was a really long day but it was such a laugh.

What was the launch like?

It was great. We were tweeting our experience the entire way, and I didn’t think anyone would notice but when we went into the room everyone knew who we were. We’ve a lot of good memories, even if the trip was a disaster!

There’s loads of jobs that she can still do – we have a NASA outfit and a race car driver outfit for her, so there’s still lots of things that we’re going to do. We’re also hoping to launch a children’s book series in the next few months.

You can keep up with Jade and Gavin’s adventures by visiting their blog, at www.notjustaprincessworld.com

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