THE VOTEs ARE IN!!
TPFG’s Super Girl PRIZE WINNERs
Drum roll please… the Grand Prize goes to ANNA ZHANG! It’s not only Anna’s accomplishments that are striking, but her incredible character, dedication, and vision for spreading kindness. The People’s Choice Award goes to LEXI JOBE! Her courage and strength to face adversity makes her the ultimate Super Girl (we’re glad you thought so too)! Congrats to everyone! You all charmed, inspired, and ignited us with your honesty, strength and conviction. This is the start of something beautiful, with much more to come.
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
Children get asked this question a lot: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. I was never a child who had her life set on one thing. I was too ambitious, and maybe a little indecisive. I wanted to found a business, publish a book, be a creative person, and change the world.
I was 12 years old when I started photography. Photography became what I lived and breathed; it fueled my creative mind and made me challenge the limits set upon me. I posted my photography on Instagram and the social media platform would become my outlet to share my view of the world around me. Photography has led me to countless, amazing opportunities: from working with renowned brands such as Walgreens and Dunkin’ Donuts, to collaborating with talented young creatives, to speaking at three TEDx events. It also gave me the idea to create a magazine dedicated to supporting young people and giving back.
I was a naive 13 year-old when I founded Pulse Spikes, an online and quarterly print magazine, in 2015. I had no experience in publishing and no connections in the industry. All I had was the idea and the determination to bring into existence a publication that would redefine the press. At the same time I found that there was no existing publication that gave a voice to young people. I dedicated Pulse Spikes to us. To the adventurer, the dreamer, the intellect – to everyone and anyone. Pulse Spikes became more than just a magazine; it introduces young visionaries to the world and provides a platform for creatives to share their talents. The publication emphasizes collaboration over competition. Today, our team is composed of talented young makeup artists, writers, stylists, photographers and filmmakers. We all come from different backgrounds but there is one thing we share in common – passion, the love we have for our work and the desire to create. The Pulse Spikes team has grown into an international community, receiving submissions from adolescents around the world including countries such as Germany, South Africa, and Indonesia.
I have always been dedicated to giving back and helping the community through small, yet powerful actions. My past work has included (RED), to campaign an AIDS free generation, and nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, the largest community improvement organization in the United States. However, through all of my pro bono work, I was collaborating alongside adults. I thought to myself, Why isn’t there a platform for teens around the world to share their experiences and thoughts on topics that have such a large consequence on young people? Why isn’t there a platform run by young people where teens could instigate change?
From these thoughts came Ignite, a platform and book project dedicated to empowering youth, raising awareness, and creating change.
The platform allows for an accessible community that adolescents around the world can be a part of. It is a rolling, submission based platform delving into the minds of millennials. All stories are honest and raw. The artwork and writing are by young people for young people.
The book features a handful of young celebrities who have used their platform to instigate change and spread positivity. The photographs in this book are taken by me, a self-taught photographer. No makeup, hair, styling or grooming was provided for the photoshoots. The talents came into the photoshoots wearing what they were comfortable in with makeup, if any, and hair done to their personal liking. The written pieces were wholly composed by the talents. Modifications were only made if there were grammatical or spelling errors. The book touched on topics such as pursuing dreams, breaking stereotypes, self-love, and the LGBT community. This book is the product of countless hours of dedication, frustration, hope, love and trust.
I thank all the celebrity involvement with this project and for those who have gone out of their ways to making this dream into a reality. From athletes to actresses to musicians, these young talents have broken youth stereotypes and have made their mark on the world. To name a few, the platform and book have shared the stories of 5-time Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian, dancer and actress Chloe Lukasiak, and former The Fosters star Gavin MacIntosh. And with the book profits, we are able to support Covenant House, our charity partner. Covenant House is the leading nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless and ending child trafficking.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”. I now know my answer. My answer is that there is no answer. I can be an artist, a social activist, an editor-in-chief, an entrepreneur, an author, a public speaker; and as crazy as it may be, I’ve done all that and today at 15 years old, I have proved to my six-year old self that whatever it is, it is within my power to dedicate my life to that passion. Through my journey, I have worked hard to push boundaries and help the community with my photography, Pulse Spikes, and now the IGNITE project. I have the future ahead of me and continue to dedicate myself to social good work and challenging societal standards.
My Own Supergirl
I am my own Supergirl, because I inspire people. I am fourteen years old, and I am a bi-lateral above the knee amputee. Ever since I was little I knew that I was different from everyone else, some people stared, some people pointed, but through all of it I always had my family right by my side. My twin would always stand in front of me to make sure people wouldn’t stare, my parents would always tell me how special I was, but that never changed the fact that all I wanted, when I was little, was to have legs. Every day I would beg my parents to have legs. I would ask them, “If I behave can I have legs?” but they always told me that it didn’t work that way. I always felt sorry for myself, until I heard my twin ask my parents, “Can I get my legs amputated too, so I can be just like Alexandra?” I was so surprised, because she wanted the very thing I had disliked about myself for so long. That day I learned that my twin never thought it was a bad thing that I didn’t have legs, and neither should I. Not long after that, we made up a game to help me with all the staring. If a child stared, we would get one imaginary dollar. If they pointed, we would get two imaginary dollars. If an adult stared we would get three dollars, and if they pointed, five dollars.
Going to school could sometimes be difficult as I got older, like having to leave in the middle of class to go meet my physical therapist, or leaving class early so that we could beat the crowd. As much as I enjoyed the many opportunities to leave class, I still just wanted to be like all my other classmates. Throughout all those moments though, I had my twin and all my friends who always made me feel included. Until the sixth grade, everything was going smoothly. I had all the things a twelve-year-old girl could wish for, a dad with a great job, a lot of friends, everything I asked for, and even a little middle school friend drama. My twin and I were pretty much spoiled. Every weekend our dad would take us to the mall and we could get anything we wanted. This went on for a while, until our dad lost his job and everything changed. Our parents decided that we would finish the sixth grade, then move to Nashville In the summer so that we could take care of our ninety-five-year-old grandmother. As you know, this was a major setback for me. I was leaving all my friends, that I’ve known since I was five, all my teachers, the place and house that I had known since I was a baby. For a while I had refused to accept that this was my new life, but over time I had come to terms with it.
When my first day of seventh grade was approaching, I was scared out of my mind. I didn’t know anyone, except for my twin. To help us out our new Principal put us in the same classes so it would be easier. Going into a new school, and being the new student is not like the movies where you automatically meet a group of really nice friends. It was the exact opposite. Right when we came in the door people were screaming their friend’s names, because they hadn’t seen them all summer, something we would have done at our old school. When we eventually took our seats, we looked around and realized that we were the only people at a table alone, like our table had poison on it. This went on until my twin and I finally made a friend. He always sat next to us in class and he was very sweet, he also didn’t seem to mind that I was a bi-lateral amputee. Besides a few stares now and then, school wasn’t so bad. By the middle of the year I had signed up for a wheelchair basketball team, which helped me learn new skills while also allowing me meet people just like me. I had also signed up for a choir at my church with my twin. They were all very nice, and always made sure I was included in everything. They pushed me around when we would go on choir trips and I always felt very loved by them. Sometimes when we would go to the store, people would stop me just to tell me how inspirational I was to them.
Going into the eighth grade was a little more difficult. My twin and I were only in two classes together. Finding this out was hard for the both of us. She is very shy so it was difficult for her, but it was also very difficult for me. My wheelchair basketball coach has this camp every year, Independence camp. It teaches you how to be independent, to open doors for yourself, to carry your lunch tray, all the things my twin helped me with. Being in different classes forced me to use these skills, but even with me knowing them, I was still very scared to do it alone especially after learning that our only friend had transferred to a different school. It got easier throughout the year and I got help from some people in my class. Here I am, writing to you now, because I believe that throughout all my experiences I have learned that I can be inspiring to many people. Now I laugh when people stare and point, I have no problem telling people why I am an amputee, and I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful, loving family who supports me. I am not bothered by the fact that I am an amputee and I live normally. That’s what I think people find so inspirational about me.
My Life, My Story
My name is Shakeema Smith and I am 15 years old. This is my story.
I was born and raised in North Philly. When I was younger, I used to play with my friends and it was safe even after the street lights came on. Then all of that changed when they started shooting. Sometimes it wasn’t even safe to sit on the steps. My mom raised me on her own for a long time and it was difficult. She struggled but tried her best to make sure I had a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my stomach. I experienced things that a little kid shouldn’t have. I also went through something that made my trust for people falter greatly. It’s too personal to explain but it left me shooken. I even witnessed my dad getting arrested, they slammed him on the ground without a care in the world. One of my aunts, Dorothy, was like a mom to me. She always took care of me and had my back. One time when I was on a time out, she snuck me out the house and took me to the store, unfortunately we didn’t make it back before my mom did and I got in trouble again but it was worth spending time with her.
My family used to be super close and I loved that about us. One day I was home with my mom and we was upstairs listening to music. My Aunt Dorothy came to our house and knocked on the door but we didn’t hear her so she left a note and went home. The next day I went to school and came back to my house as the happy little girl I was when I saw my mom crying. I didn’t know what was going on, I was only 7. Then she told me that my Aunt Dorothy passed away. That happy little girl was gone and I immediately started crying outside, not caring who saw. I just couldn’t stop. She was killed just outside her house the night before, an overkill. Maybe if we would’ve heard the door then none of it would’ve happen. Then she probably would still be alive. A piece of me died with her.
A year before she died, one of her kids died from a house fire. Her name was Jessica and she was the cutest baby ever, my aunt was outside when the fire happened. Her other kids made it out with only smoke inhalation. Jessica died at the hospital and my aunt Dorothy cried on my shoulder. I was too shocked to cry. I miss them both so much.
My family started drifting far apart after she died. Arguments started happening and bonds began to breaken. My grandma, such a strong women been through so much and not many people would’ve survived half of the things she been through. I remember when she got hit by a speeding car on her way back to my mom house. She pulled through when all hope was lost and I thanked God for it. Later on, she had a stroke that gave everyone a scare, she was in the hospital unresponsive and it was so hard to hold back my tears. Because of the stroke, she couldn’t speak or move most of her body. My mom and I tried to take care of her but it was very difficult. My aunt had to take over. Until this day, she still can’t talk but she’s moving some parts of her body again. Ik I have to be strong for her but sometimes I just wanna break down and cry. I just don’t believe that my feelings matter to anyone.
I barely talk to my family now, only a few. I had to go to the hospital a few times over the year. One time was because I cut my knees very bad and had to get stitches, I hated the crutches I had. Another time I fractured my wrist from a gym accident and I had to wear a cast for a few months. It was really rough for me. Most of the time, it was for my headaches. I get them non stop and they never go away, no matter what they prescribe me. One of my best friends ended up in the hospital because of cancer I believe it was brain cancer, I’m not really sure but I know it was serious. I’m so happy he’s better now, I don’t know what I would do without him.
In middle school I got many awards especially for math. Two years in a row I was in the top 5 in First In Math out of the whole school district and I was even on the academic news paper, front page. I always try to be the best friend I can be by giving my friends a shoulder to cry on, or an ear so they can tell me their problems. I defend my friends and always have their back. I love making the people I care about smile and laugh. My little brother is 2 almost 3 and I love him to death. I would do anything for him. There are still problems going on in my life but I’m trying my best to get through it. Wish me luck!
Inspire to be inspired.
My name is Sabrah Mitchell. I am from a small town in Washington State known as Kennewick Washington. A few months ago my family moved to the West side of the state to another small town known as Mukilteo Washington about 20 min north of Seattle. I would consider myself a small town girl. I have a lot to say and not sure where to start, but here I go.
I want to first start off by saying the person who inspires me the most is my mom. My mom was 17 years old when I came into her life. Every single day she tells me I was the best thing that happened to her. My mom has never stopped trying to give me an amazing life. She teaches me to be kind, patient, selfless, and to love others. We do not have a lot, but that has never stopped my mom from working really hard for my brother and I. She is a true super hero. With that said. My mom inspires me because she does so much for people every day. She works as a volunteer in the school district as well as the community giving of herself to others every day. I did not realize how much she inspires me until something hit me like a train, followed by a dump truck last year when I lost my best friend suddenly to a childhood illness called Addisons disease. This was the hardest thing I have ever in my 14 years of life had to experience, and my mom was there to catch me as I fell to my knees in shock to hear I had just lost my best friend.
A few weeks after I lost Julianna my mom stumbled across an amazing designer whom she did not know was a designer at the time. My mom was actually sticking up for this designer on social media not even knowing who Eni with Lulu et Gigi was. It was pretty amazing to watch my mom be so invested in the well-being of others. This led to an invite to New York Fashion week, where I modeled for the first time. It was amazing. Watching the entire process was amazing, enlightening, challenging, and extremely inspirational. I met so many fantastic people, and made friends that I know will last a life time. Because of my mom and eni working really hard to get me there (my mom literally sold everything she had to pay for us to go). I left New York inspired. But let me back up a minute. The New York Fashion Show date ended up being on Juliann’s Birthday (my best friend who now watches over me). The entire thing was just incredible. I felt Julianna with me the entire time. At that point I knew I could possible inspire and empower young girls all over the world to just love their purpose in life. This is where I found inspiration, which will lead me into who I am what I want to do, and why it means so much to me.
I am Sarbah Mitchell, I will be 14 years old on January 5th, 2017 and I want to make a difference. I am a part of a prevention team at my school, where I peer mediate, counsel and prevent other students from self-inflicting harm or acts of destruction. I am also an anti-bully teen activist, where I stand up for those who struggle with situations that make them feel less than their best. I am also a childhood cancer and illness awareness activist, where I volunteer and promote
awareness to my community. (Inspired by Julianna) What I want to do, and who I want to be is that person who changes lives. I am currently designing a line of clothing for Childhood cancer and illness awareness, and hope to bring it to a New York Fashion week. Except my show will include models who are childhood cancer survivors, and children living with an illness/disease. I want to show the world my survivors, they are warriors, and are beautiful. I want the world to know when they wear my designs they are wearing strength and hope.
Along with my designs, and dream of becoming an inspiration to others, I do not want to do this because I want to be rich and famous. That thought has never crossed my mind. I feel as though I would be doing this for a much bigger cause. Bigger than myself or anyone for that matter. I feel I will be instilling hope in homes across the world that anyone can be anything if they put their minds to it.
Not only do I want to promote childhood cancer and Illness awareness, I want to include everyone, everywhere who face challenges in their lives every day. Illness, disability, poverty, bullied, divorced families, foster children, etc. I want to stand up for every single challenge or obstacle that comes in every shape and form. I want to let these kids know, even adults know that no matter what they are beautiful and they all continue to be my inspiration to do great things.
I am am 8th grader at a school much like every school I am sure, but I observe, I stand back and I watch. I see that there are those who are living in fear of what people think of them. You have the popular table, the non popular table. The bad kids, the goody goody kids, the geeks, the chics, and the others. I feel that we are divided as a whole, and it starts at a very young age. You would be surprised with how much opposites attract. I believe that I can inspire my generation to not be so divided and hopefully change how everyone sees each other.
When my mom told me about this contest, I was very excited. I really do not know how to talk about myself, so I do apologize on how poorly this may be written, but I wanted the chance to express myself, I feel like this contest is perfect for me to spread my dreams and hopefully make them a reality. I appreciate the opportunity to be able to submit to a contest such as this. I feel like there are so many girls out there that have the ability to make a difference, and I cannot wait to see who those girls are. Even if I am not chosen for the contest, I am super honored to finally tell someone bigger than myself and my mom what I am inspired to do. This is a huge step for me!! I really hope you enjoyed my essay on myself!
GOOD LUCK TO EVERY GIRL INSPIRED TO BE INSPIRED!!!
Sabrah LeAnne Mitchell
The Tears I’ve Wept
Traumatized, depressed, scared, I was suppressed, not knowing whom to go to, or where to turn. Paralyzed in fear, my mouth felt as if it was glued shut, trying to escape the sticky walls of words. I didn’t feel my worth of staying in this society, I lost my identity. “Who am I?” the frequent question pictured in my mind day by day. Taking my life, as if bullying couldn’t hurt me anymore. My name’s Anum Tayyab, and I was bullied.
Comatose, yet joyful, I was eager for my first day of seventh grade. As I wished my mother a good day, my feet took their first steps onto the school transportation bus, making my way to an entirely new year. The jerky ride along with anxious thoughts made me extremely apprehensive for school, but I was determined to make this year my very best, but it was only when I entered when I began to realize…this is impossible.
Throughout the year, I was always picked on by my fellow students. They made fun of my lifestyle, culture, and mainly religion. Kids would “playfully,” make bomb sounds with their mouths referring to me, and making sudden outbursts during instruction saying I caused the tragedy of 9/11. Slowly, I gradually lost parts of me, I became depressed, anxious, had no desire to live. I felt alone, unknown. The pain haunted me day by day. I began bearing the scars of society’s burns.
Every label put on my family…broke my heart. I was called a disappointment for being a “terrorist.” The worlds were like price tags, they showed my worth. By the time the price added up, I had none. I was worth nothing.
My hands trembled as I walked into my classroom for another nerve-racking day in class. My petrified face, my teary face, all the laughs I received, I was never supported as a Muslim girl. Students made mockery of my rituals and prayers without realizing they were hurting my perspective of Muslim practices. I couldn’t speak nor critique, I was losing myself, I wasn’t aware of what individual I would turn out to be. My feet raced to the restroom as tears ran down my face, I glanced up to the bathroom mirror, and soon began to sob. I didn’t recognize myself, all my heart could do was throb.
Imagine a world where bullying isn’t considered a normal part of childhood. A world where I’m not afraid to go to school. To speak out, which was an act I was oppressed from. To be myself. A world where I’m not afraid to be alone in. I never had the power to stand up. Bullying is NOT kids being kids. It’s not about good homes or bad homes. It’s not a normal part of growing up. I shouldn’t have to be scared to get on a school bus or walk to my locker. I should’ve used my voice, because I had the power to stop bullying.
The outside I laugh, the inside I cry, the way I had to portray myself, to make myself look brave, its true pain. I’m just longing for the day…when I can be my true self. The insecurity was overwhelming, I truly believed I was no longer a beautiful individual.
Despite the dreadful experience I had to encounter, throughout many months, I had the power of hope. Even though at times it would seem as if it was only a spark, it was intact. I knew deep down it would stop, and so it did. Bullying is my worst nightmare, something that in fact left a scar on my heart. I just hope and pray, that no one weep the kind of tears I wept.
Brain Tumor Fighter
I was always a very active kid. I did a lot of activities and was always busy! I grew up figure skating, dancing, and doing ariel circus. When I was 13 years old, I wasn’t feeling like my regular self and I was having really bad headaches. My mom took me to the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota and they did an MRI of my head. On January 9th, 2015 I was diagnosed with a Brain Stem Glioma. A Brain Stem Glioma is a brain tumor located in the brain stem. Unfortunately, because of the location of my tumor, surgery is not an option. Chemotherapy also has a very slim chance of working because it won’t go through the blood-brain barrier. There isn’t really a lot of traditional options for my type of tumor. So we started researching more natural approaches!
During all of this I was searching for sit down activities that I enjoyed as much as sports. That was when I found the entertainment industry and over creative things! I fell in love with acting and modeling. I started designing clothes and writing songs and doing activities that I could do even if I had a headache. Because of all of my headaches, I started online school at the end of 7th grade. At the time I was living in Minnesota. I decided that it was time to go for my goals! My super supporting mom and I moved to LA. That was when I signed with my manager and agent!
I have been super fortunate to do some really amazing things! You can see me on the hit ABC sitcom Fresh Off The Boat, in Elle Magazine, Teen Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and others. I just got back from opening New York Fashion Week and I’m so excited to go back this winter (February 2017)!
Since being diagnosed two years ago, I have been very lucky. The long term survival rate for a Brain Stem Glioma is around 5% and they normally effect patients a lot physically because they can grow very quickly. In the last two years my tumor hasn’t grown, but it also hasn’t shrunk.
Since being diagnosed, I decided to start helping kids who aren’t as fortunate as me. I was so excited when I was given the opportunity to bring my two worlds together this past fall. I helped plan and host Fashion Shows with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation all over the US. I have also worked with St Jude to spread awareness about childhood cancer. I’m so glad that I have a platform like modeling and acting to spread awareness about something that a lot of people don’t know much about. I’ve always loved social media but I never really had a purposeful reason to use it. The fact that we have something like social media to promote things that we are really passionate about it is so cool! My goal in the upcoming years is to inform more people and really share the message about Childhood tumors and cancers that can’t be healed through traditional medicine. That’s why I would truly love to be a part of this project and continue to share my message with a new generation of girls who are helping to change our world.
College at 13?!
Yup, you read the title right. I did go to college when I was thirteen years old, and now I am sixteen attending Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. I know it may seem hard to wrap your finger around, but trust me, I’ll make my story as simple and captivating as possible.
Like every other life story, it started with a desire, a will -‐-‐ a dream. As a kid, I always wanted to make a difference in the world, a path to inspire so many people. Although I never planned to go to college so early, it sort of just happened. Growing up, I felt ordinary, and my parents were the only people who made me believe that I was someone special. Because of their amazing support, I got to experience unbelievable things, as well as create the most unique journey for myself.
I grew up in a small city near San Francisco and attended a private school until I Graduated the eighth grade. After some new ideas and a great plan, I started attending a community college at thirteen years old and transferred to a university when I was fifteen. Within the transition, I got to appear on the news for being one of the youngest college attendees in the Bay Area. One of the youngest because my sister also attended college with me at eleven years old! Anyway, life for me has been quite interesting. Of course, there were many ups and downs, tears of joy and sadness, but it was all worth it as I look back. I think moving away from my family at fifteen years old was the roughest part. I may only be six hours away , but it felt like I was flown across the world from them. Good thing FaceTime was invented because it brought me and my family back together!
Seems strange, but school was and is my current priority. It takes a great amount of education to become a doctor and I plan to become one of the greatest dermatologists. Why I chose to become a dermatologist? It is because they deal with the physical attributes of people. Helping others with their exterior insecurities will guide them to also form self‐confidence and self-appreciation. Being a teenager, I know how it feels to have acne and other blemishes, it Makes me feel less confident about myself. Having the power and ability to help others with their happiness and self-confidence can simply be the start to making the world a better place -‐ because a happy person can be the light to spread positive vibes to everyone else.
Education is something that is so valuable, yet taken for granted in a first world country like the United States. School is mandatory for all children until they graduate high school, but because education is so ingrained in us, it can feel unimportant to many individuals. Compared to many different countries, the U.S. is very fortunate to understand the gift of knowledge and provide many public schools across the country. In other locations, parents and children struggle to obtain the education they want or need. Have you ever heard the phrase, “education is power” ? Well, my father continuously reminded my siblings and I how education can change your life, because it changed his. My dad grew up in a poor household, but with determination and a dream, he changed his fate through college to make a living for himself and his future generation. From what I am going through in college, it takes a lot of self-motivation and drive to reach your goals, that is why I want to spread the same drive for other kids to achieve their dreams as well.
Don’t get me wrong when I say school is my current priority. People think I am secluded and put all my attention in only studying. Besides school, I love hanging out with my friends, traveling, trying a variety of ice cream places in Santa Monica or LA, taking pictures, and having fun at events. Having mini adventures in Southern California is one of my favorite things to do. I am very fortunate to go to school in Malibu and explore so many places. Overall, my experiences have lead me into treasuring loved ones, caring for others, and acknowledging the characteristics of being humble, kind, and just being myself. Throughout my newly paved way, I have made incredible relationships and amazing memories that I will remember forever. As you read, I have some big aspirations, but I know all the hard work and dedication will be truly worth it in the end. My name is Jovina David and I am a third year at Pepperdine University, majoring in Biology, working to become a great dermatologist, and a model for young dreamers.
Hello, my name is Mia Wilson, thank you for spending your time to read this. I want to be able to influence other kids and adults with kindness. My favorite volunteering I have done was when I made over fifty dog beds for a local animal shelter in need, and I am about halfway through with creating a website for my donations. The website will include a spot where other shelters can ask for bed donations, and the website will have a blog where I can post where I donated and how it went. Of course all beds will be free for shelters in need. I plan to start volunteering at a local animal shelter once a spot opens. For the same animal shelter, I began to collect donations at the beginning of 2017, and I plan on collecting a lot by the time 2018 rolls around. I really love and support animals, and I want to be able to inspire others to do the same. “An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”-Martin Buber
I also made four blankets for homeless kids, and I love to craft and create things and helping people at the time just makes it so much better. Even though four is not a lot, it is better than zero. I believe that as long as I helped one child, I made a big difference. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”-Gandhi
Other than these moments, my proudest was when I had one of the worst scores on my track and field team, but I practiced and trained really hard all season. I ended up getting onto the 4×100 relay team for the Championship, and we ended up getting a superb time (58 seconds) and we placed very high! This meant a lot to me because I did not give up, and our relay team ended up impressing our coach. If you give up, you automatically lose, but if you try, even if you do not succeed, you win.
My favorite quote is “Push yourself because no one else is going to do it for you.” This quote means that you cannot rely on others because you have to push yourself, by yourself. I live by this quote because I want to make a difference in our world, and I am definitely not going to sit by, waiting for someone to do it for me.
One of my goals for 2017 is to complete ten random acts of kindness a day. This, I admit, has been challenging, but I am working on this resolution. I believe that even simple act of kindness can turn up someone’s day. Whenever I am having a bad day, I always appreciate when someone else is kind to me, and I want to make others have that same feeling.
I also want to inspire other girls just to be themselves because they should not be pressured to be someone else. ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. Actually, you are great enough! Stick up for yourself, but stay kind. The people who need the most kindness are the people who are mean. It might be hard to be kind to everyone, but these actions will pay off in the future. Kindness is always the right answer. “Be kind whenever possible, it is always possible.”-Mother Teresa
One unique talent that I have is that I can program. I took a difficult programming camp, and I plan on using this skill a lot in life. I might be able to help others by making websites for them because that would be awesome!!! Another talent I have is that I can knit, crochet, and sew I would love to be able to help others by making items that they need, and as I said earlier (first and second paragraph) I have already made items for others by crafting. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out!”-Dr. Seuss
I have also been making doll skirts that I could sell at craft fairs, but I still need to make a lot more until I am able have a good supply. This will be my own business. I will donate some of my profit to charity probably a local animal shelter.
In conclusion, I am just an ordinary kid trying to do extraordinary things. I am not perfect, nor do I aim to be, but I intend to be a kindhearted girl that can encourage other girls. The dictionary definition of kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate, and that is how I want to encourage people. The more people I get on board with kindness, the better the world will be.
Words are my Super Power
If I’m a supergirl, it’s simply because I know of a superpower: the breathtaking power of words. We all use words: it’s how we communicate, how we share, how we coexist in this world, but over these past years I have only began to understand how brilliant, magical and transformative they are if used correctly.
I was first thrown into this magic in the first Harry Potter novel and I loved it. At night, when insomnia plagued me, I created a game for myself. After reading the first Harry Potter novel, I was caught upon the characters. I wanted to be there at Hogwarts with them. So in my mind I recreated the characters, forging them in my imagination. I sculpted them in the future with twenty two pairs of identical twins (I was particularly fascinated with twins, being an only child at the time). They all had names and ages and if I forgot a new name or age I would simply derive a new one. My own form of fanfiction, but purely for myself. Each night I played with my little mind game, visiting the kingdom vibrant in imagination.
As I matured I created a new game, shaping out my wildest fantasies and dreams in my mind world. I would live vicariously through my imaginary, perfect characters and each night new obstacles faced them. As I entertained myself this way, along the way I had fallen deeper in love with these delicately curled and boxed building blocks. Words fascinate me, not only what we’ve made them mean, but their forms. How the ‘r’s curve to form a regretting face in the word sorry. Or how the ‘f’ in flower forms the stem of the flower, while the ‘w’ are the petals. For me each sentence has to sound right, but also look right.
But words are not truly meant to be seen, they are meant to be seen through. They’re a portal transporting you to another time and place. When I read, the black and white print transforms into colorful worlds; worlds I can escape into. I laugh, sob, mourn, shout, and giggle. I disappear from the common human mask that I wear, to an extraordinary person that lies in the books, becoming more than the normal that binds me.
One night at around ten years old I strived to create a new storyline. After reading the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare I needed a world to fall into at night that contained magic. Magic and words, I feel, are quite similar. And my chance I fell upon a name that night: Rays, and the bad guys would be Roys and my main character would be so powerful, so strong. I kept a small, purple notebook by my bed and mapped out my characters, giving them first, last and middle names, birthdays and powers. I began the process of composing a universe. At night, I would spend hours brainstorming how this would work and how that would fly. At some point I told myself, it only has to make sense to you.
Around this time, during free writing time in fifth grade, I decided I wanted to write a story: a novel. Again inspired by a book: Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz. My main character was a boy, residing in NYC and a thief. Yet this was difficult, because I had absolutely no experience in thieving and I wasn’t planning to begin. This character was as different from me as I could get and I couldn’t truly connect to my character. Five pages later it changed from a boy to a girl. Another page later, I had a realization. All this time, I had already created a universe for me to use. I could transform my thoughts and imagination into a world for other people to take shelter in.
And thus my current novel had begun. It has morphed quite a lot through the years as I have. Three years later, I surpassed the word count of the book that had started me on this journey in the first place: Harry Potter. Many, many hours have been spent pouring over these words. I found that constructing a producing a universe in your head is quite different from putting it down on paper or pixels I should say. I had to have laws, restrictions: sense had to be made from my jumbled, stretchy imagination. I changed it from 1st to 3rd person, directing my character farther away from myself. This November, I joined other leagues of writers in the young writer’s version of Nanowrimo. I proudly wrote 20,000 words in that month, draining my creativity each night. At the end of that month I had a finished 1st draft of a novel at 83,000 words at thirteen years old.
I am still writing, revising. Still, looking towards that finish line and picturing my book complete and the shelves of a bookstore for another young dreamer to be immersed in.
I took my dreams, my literal dreams and my imagination and made it something tangible. I took my universe and gave it to the world.
I am a firm believer in the magic of words, the superpower of words, because again and again I have experienced that magic, resided in and created it. I read because I want to live in as many universes as possible. I write to create my own, carving out my place in the world through my words.
Following in her footsteps
On August 28, 2014, Elizabeth Maria Walsh, my ballet teacher and close friend, sadly passed away. She was only 26 years old.
I was so upset, I couldn’t contain my tears. Twenty minutes after I found out, I had to take a ballet class. I was so devastated, my first reaction was to go home. But as it got closer to the class, I thought about it more. Since Elizabeth showed so much bravery when she hurt so badly, I decided to honor her in that way. I took my ballet class holding in my tears, because I knew that’s what she would have wanted.
Elizabeth was a warrior—she called herself “Luchadora” which means warrior in Spanish. She was the bravest person I’ve ever met, and always will be. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Adrenal Cortical Cancer, an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer that strikes only one in a million people. After six months of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, she convinced herself and everyone around her that she would get better. She listened to Broadway musicals while undergoing radiation and was frequently told, “Miss Walsh, we need you to lie still.” But Elizabeth could never be still.
For a few months, she was better. She was in multiple callbacks for the Broadway company of In the Heights. When she was finally cast in a regional production of the show at Cabrillo Musical Theatre in Sherman Oaks, it was a dream come true for her. However, at the same time she learned that her cancer had come back and was spreading. The doctors urged her to skip the show and start chemo right away. But Elizabeth refused. She wanted to live her life and perform in her dream show. She died a few months after the last curtain.
Elizabeth was always a bright light everywhere she went and an inspiration to everyone who knew her. She taught me that life is what you make of it. It’s important how you treat people and how you handle whatever challenges are thrown at you. You face them with bravery and love. Though she hit many rocks along her path, it just made her want to keep going more. She was never afraid, never sad, never angry–at least she didn’t let us see it. She was beautiful and graceful and strong.
Elizabeth wanted to share her huge heart with others in need, so she started Dancers with Cancer, a non-profit organization to help heal those afflicted with cancer and other debilitating diseases through the art of dance therapy, and also raises funding through the arts to support orphan cancer research and serve underprivileged children with cancer.
Much of what I do as a theater performer and dancer is inspired by Elizabeth–she always told me to dream big and never stop fighting for what you love. My dream, like hers, is to be on Broadway one day. I feel that she is with me every step of the way, motivating me to keep going even when I feel discouraged. Sometimes, when I am on stage, I picture her in the back of the house, smiling at me and applauding louder than anyone else.
I’m proud to be supporting her and growing her charity every day—in this way, her legacy will never die. I have held bake sales at my school, organized Soul Cycle rides, and recorded a single on iTunes where all proceeds went to Dancers with Cancer. I also recently hosted a benefit cabaret performance starring kids in the Broadway theater community at an off-Broadway theater. As the author of a bestselling children’s book series, The Cupcake Club, I dedicated two books to Elizabeth, and created a character inspired by her story.
To date, I have raised more than $6,000 for Dancers with Cancer—and that is just the beginning. My goal is to make as many people aware of her charity as I can, and make Elizabeth proud by continuing her mission. She believed that dance could elevate the spirit and heal the heart and body.
Elizabeth couldn’t stop cancer from taking her life, but she could use dance therapy to make others suffering feel better. She felt it was her purpose to shed light on people’s lives. She certainly did on mine. I am proud to follow in her footsteps, and if I am a “supergirl” in my life, it’s because she has given me the wings to fly.
WHO’s YOUR SUPER GIRL?
The Project for Girls is throwing an amazing contest to give voice to and share the stories of extraordinary girls. We’re looking for a young woman (ages 13-16) who embodies exactly what it means to seize life by doing something incredible with hers. Maybe she’s overcome extraordinary circumstances. Maybe she’s devoted to helping others. Maybe she’s an entrepreneur with a booming business. You tell us! TPFG has launched this contest as a way for her story to be heard and as a platform to promote what she has to offer as a young and ambitious influence.
DID YOU SAY “SWAG BAG?”:
On January 16th, ten nominees will be announced. The Top 10 Super Girl Contest Nominees will each receive a customized Super Girl Swag Bag from The Project For Girls, each filled with goodies from Skinny Tees, Les Tout Petit, BCBGeneration, Pop Sugar, BKR, and more!
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD:
On January 16th, it’s your time to vote! We want the stories we collect and showcase to be as inspiring to you, as they are to us. The People’s Choice winner will have their story published on The Project for Girls, including a personal interview with Lauri Levenfeld to help structure content and social media postings to promote the individual and their platform. So visit the site, read the stories, vote for your favorite, and help us to celebrate a girl who really is a Super Girl. Public voting will close on Jan. 23rd at 11:59pm PST. Winners will be announced on January 27th at 6am PST.
THE GRAND PRIZE:
Photoshoot of a lifetime! Sponsored by BCBGeneration, the winner will receive a flight for herself and a parent or legal guardian to Los Angeles, CA with the inclusion of a one-night’s hotel stay. Fashion Photographer & TPFW/ TPFG Founder Lauri Levenfeld (Seventeen, Marie Claire, Sundance Film Festival) & her team will create a shoot of a lifetime to promote the winner’s story & platform.
The winner will be featured on The Project for Girls. Global fashion brand BCBGeneration will outfit our winner with a styled shoot wardrobe, designed to make her look and feel amazing. Winner will be gifted one BCBGeneration look from the day to bring home.
The winner will also receive the opportunity to shoot a few photographs at end of shoot with one of the contest spokespersons ( including Francesca Capaldi from Disney’s Dog with a Blog, Olivia Rodrigo from Disney’s Bizaardvaarks, Ariana Greenblatt from Disney’s Stuck in the Middle, Jillian Shea Spaeder from Disney’s Walk the Prank, Lori Mae Hernandez from America’s Got Talent, and print model and Modern Family actress Violet Lux ) for a fun, unforgettable day of photography and memories. And Magnificent Magazine will publish the editorial spread of The Project for Girls’ story promoting the contest winner.
Best of luck to everyone! Thanks for being a part of this wonderful community!
…Want to learn more about TPFG?