Nikki Grimes is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of over 75 children’s and young adult books. She is the recipient of the 2006 National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.
Grimes is also the recipient of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) Award, the 2017 Children’s Literature Legacy Award, the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.
Grimes began writing poetry when she was 6 years old, and her love for literature has propelled her to continue writing stories based on locations all over the world.
Grimes faced many struggles during her childhood and used reading and writing as coping mechanisms to help her move through those challenges. She didn’t feel like she had anyone she could trust or talk to, so instead, she turned to writing.
“Reading and writing were my survival tools.”
Raised in a small town, Grimes had never met an artist or a writer when she was growing up. She learned of the importance of surrounding herself with people who believed in her and who had their own dreams that they were working toward.
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This is shown in Grimes’ book Southwest Sunrise, which depicts a boy who moves from New York City to a city in the southwest. The one thing that gives him more meaning in the desert, which he must now call his home, is a nature book that was gifted to him by his mother. He discovers the beauty in nature that he had never appreciated before.
“At the end of the day, there are only two things that are eternal. That is God and people. And so you have got to make time for them.”
According to Grimes, one of the most challenging problems that she has faced in her career has been trying to get out of the literary ghetto. As a person of color, she has had to overcome negative expectations and stereotypes based on her race.
She has constantly pushed the boundaries to make space for herself in the writing world and fought those stereotypes that have pushed against her.
Grimes’ poems tell stories that many people of diverse backgrounds can relate to; they are inspiring and empathetic. She wants to challenge young readers to appreciate poetry by finding a part of it they resonate with.
Grimes believes that books give young readers the ability to enter inside stories, instead of just watching them from a third-person perspective as they do with television shows. It’s all about finding the right book for the right person.
“It has the opportunity to bypass your mind and go straight to your heart.”
Grimes reminds us all of the importance of writing ideas down. She always keeps a pen and paper with her wherever she goes to make sure that her ideas don’t get away from her.
Grimes has written several stories geared toward the African American community relating to skin color, hair, struggles and growing up. She has even authored even a picture book about Barack Obama.
Her writing seeks to inspire the African American community, and Grimes wants readers to gain hope from reading her books. She wants readers to know that it is possible to use your path to guide you to where you want to go.
“I write from a place of honesty and authenticity so that [readers] understand I know their struggles. I know where they are, I’ve been through what they have been through and I came out intact and am thriving.”
There are many lessons that Grimes has learned from the challenges she has faced throughout her writing career. It is important to surround yourself with like-minded and positive people. With the right support system, we can set goals and reach them one at a time.
“You can still dare to dream and you can watch your dreams come true.”
The Black Lives Matter movement has not only invoked a sense of community, but also rattled the world and inspired many to step up and support one another.
This has motivated Grimes to write poems and post them on her social media pages such as Twitter, @nikkigrimes9.
She has heard loads of positive feedback from readers about her poetry. Though her writing has helped her in many ways, it has also helped her readers emotionally deal with the weight of these movements.
Grimes has multiple books coming out in the next couple of months and is very excited to be able to continue to share her work, including writing on topics such as women in the Harlem Renaissance. Though writing has not been an easy career for Grimes to pursue, she has certainly thrived in the face of adversity.
How Johnny Ward Made Millions Travelling Around the World And Inspiring People Through His Travel Blog
Johnny Ward is a famous travel blogger that has traveled to every single country on the planet.
He has built an empire blogging with his site, “One Step 4Ward.” After growing up on welfare in Ireland, attending university and moving to the United States after graduation, Ward dreamed of traveling the world country by country.
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“I wanted to show people from around the world that you can still do what you want to do even without the proper financial support in the beginning, said Ward”
Ward found different ways to earn his own funds to financially support his dream. In the end, he became an English teacher in Thailand, traveled around Asia, and landed jobs teaching English in other countries such as South Korea. In Australia, he realized that he wanted to share with others his experience stepping into the world.
Ward created a blog in order to teach others what he had done and how he was still able to achieve his dream of traveling the world. While traveling from Cape Town to Syria using public transport, he blogged many of his traveling days. When Ward began to earn money for the posts he was creating, he realized how much his work was appreciated by viewers and decided to continue blogging full time. Traveling came with amazing experiences and baffling stories that Ward now shares with people all over the world.
Ward has made over 2 million blog posts, and throughout his journey, he overcame many challenges and learned how to work through trial and error. It took him a lot of self-motivation to realize that his upbringing did not have to define the rest of his life or his success.
“People think that victimhood is some sort of currency. They argue about who’s had it hard rather than getting on with it. There is nothing stopping you from being a success.”
After Ward grew to love each community he visited, he created a way to give back to those communities that had given him so much joy. He created Mudita Adventures, a nonprofit organization to help others take opportunities to participate in service projects all over the world. Ward’s favorite place in the world is Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he is now building a villa to celebrate his success.
Ward has learned a lot about the media market and has shared many of his findings with his supporters. Ward advises listeners and readers to steer clear from the idea that the marketplace is saturated. There is space for any quality product. Believe in the success that you will have in your venture.
“Don’t get hung up on your shortcomings.”
Ward has also written an e-book, which he is offering for free on his blog website. Blogging Brought Me Here is a first-hand account of how blogging and traveling changed Ward’s life and how they can change yours as well. It even includes tips on how to start your own blog!
Meet Grace Strobel-The Down Syndrome Model Elevating Empathy In the Modeling World
Grace Strobel is a Down syndrome model taking the modeling industry by storm. At 24, she has signed with three modeling agencies and recently became the first American model with Down syndrome to represent a skincare line. Grace, through her career, strives to promote acceptance and the illumination of gifts and talents of all people. She is also committed to being a light for people with disabilities.
The Grace Effect is a 45-minute presentation that Grace created in 2017 to educate others on what it is like for her to live with Down syndrome, and the importance of practicing kindness, respect, and overcoming struggles. When Strobel was working in the lunchroom, other kids made fun of her for not being able to do certain tasks at school. Through the victimization, Strobel realized that the other kids didn’t understand what it was like for her to live with Down syndrome, especially through the lack of fine motor skills that make her syndrome more apparent. Her mother, Linda Strobel, has been incredibly supportive throughout her daughter’s journey of launching The Grace Effect.
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“Sometimes people fear what they don’t understand,” said Linda
Through her projects and her modeling career, Strobel has been given a voice and a chance to change peoples’ understanding of disabilities. Strobel began by posting photos on her Instagram and Facebook accounts, and she was soon discovered by a modeling agency. She has now walked the runway in St. Luis and Atlantic City, N.J., and virtually in Runway of Dreams and New York Fashion Week. Strobel’s parents are proud of how much she has been able to accomplish this early in her career and how strong she has been in getting over her challenges.
“Our biggest triumphs are our biggest struggles,” said Linda.
Strobel’s father, Jeff, appreciates all of the kindness people have shown his daughter and family. He has also supported her in her career. Strobel is now just 24 years old, and has paved the way for many other people to step into the spotlight and break more barriers in the fashion industry, and many other industries with limited career opportunities for those with disabilities.
“I knew she was beautiful and I always knew that she had value and worth to the world,” said Linda
Strobel believes that she was called to advocate for herself and others. When speaking to others who feel ostracized, or feel that they don’t have the worth to be in the spotlight, Strobel encourages them to “speak for themselves, be confident, work hard, and never give up.”
“I’m a model, I’m a speaker, I’m an advocate,” said Grace
Confidence is an important factor in modeling and Strobel has practiced positive affirmations and body positivity to build up her confidence. Everyone has their own insecurities, and the message that Strobel is spreading shows people that no matter who you are or what you are living with, no one deserves negative judgment.
The Grace Effect also addresses the danger of cyberbullying and the importance of kids hiding behind computer screens putting themselves in the shoes of the kids they are attacking. She is not only helping those who are victims of bullying, but she is also helping bullies see the harm that they are inflicting.
“I know she is changing minds and hearts one speech at a time. She is helping people see others in a valued way,” said Linda
Strobel is overcoming the standards of the modeling world. She is part of the movement that is breaking down race, body image, accessibility, and many other stereotypes of the modeling/fashion industry. The world still has a long way to go with its acceptance of disabilities. Strobel has learned of the importance of surrounding herself with a support system.
Outliving Cancer and Changing Lives Through Exploration-Meet Angelina Mangiardi
Angelina Mangiardi (aka “Katniss”) grew up in Western Massachusetts on a farm where she grew to love nature and thrived in the open countryside. At just nineteen, her life completely turned upside down after she was diagnosed with bone cancer. At the time of her diagnosis, she was attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in NYC to pursue her dream of entering the fashion industry as a stylist but she had to put her dreams on hold to start chemo treatment.
Mangiardi’s battle with cancer was a tough one but she never lost hope. Mangiardi’s treatment plan involved six 21-day cycles of chemotherapy, with a 96-hour infusion and five-day hospital stay required with each treatment. After finishing chemo, Mangiardi completed nineteen grueling rounds of radiation. After six painful months of treatment, the cancer was gone.
“Everything happened so quickly that I just went into survival mode,” explains Mangiardi.
While in the hospital, Angelina started researching cancer resources, and she stumbled upon First Descents, an outdoors program for cancer patients that completely changed her life. She got to experience the healing power of spending time outdoors, and she formed a passion for bringing people closer to nature. With her shifting dreams, Mangiardi studied environmental science and worked as the Environmental Education Program Assistant at Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) in Fairbanks, Alaska.
After experiencing many adventures in Alaska, she went to work as the Farm-to-School Coordinator for Mālama Kaua’i, a non-profit organization working for sustainability across Kaua’i. Mangiardi kept up with her leadership responsibilities and later on, decided to continue where she had left off with her passion for introducing others to the natural world. She returned to First Descents after her first year in remission and joined the team as the Program Coordinator to help introduce others to the power of adventure that she had discovered while she was a participant in the program.
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Mangiardi’s motto is, “outliving it” because she has connected with the importance of surviving cancer and going outside of her comfort zone to live whatever life she wants for herself no matter what may challenge her along the way.
“Everything in my life, the career path, and things that fulfill me all stem from the lessons I learned from surviving cancer.”
As Mangiardi reflects on what it was like in the moment of being told that she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, she remembers how she needed to understand how to cope. That she did not need to stay perfectly strong the entire time. She needed to live positively, but also accept that there would be times when it was okay to not be okay. When she did need to break down and let out the negative emotions that she may try to hold in. Mangiardi has gotten to meet and connect with many other young adults dealing with similar challenges as she has.
“There is this unspoken bond and instant connection between us. Everyone in the cancer community understands it.”
First Descents is one of the ways Mangiardi has felt this bond with others. She has gotten to go climbing, boating, surfing, and reclaim her life through the First Descents program. She has transitioned from a participant to a Program Coordinator.
Discovering the rock climbing program at First Descents changed Mangiardi’s perspective on the challenges she faced. She focuses on accessibility and adaptability at First Descents to make sure that no matter the medical situation people are in, they are welcome in the program. First Descents offers outdoor experiential programming, skill development, and aims to improve the long-term survivorship of young adults living with serious health conditions. Mangiardi sees the importance of keeping nature in our daily lives and the impact it can have on our mental health.
“Find ways to connect with your environment and what is around you.”
The power that this program has had on so many young peoples’ lives is being spread through social media for others to discover. Check out their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and share about this amazing opportunity with anyone you know who may appreciate this program as much as Mangiardi. Help more people discover the beauty of nature and outlive their own challenges.