Once upon a time there was a bright little girl who was illiterate at 11 years old and sadly misunderstood. She could not read or write and was torturously bullied. In fact, one of the Nation’s top school systems offered to fund private schooling to help her access her education. Only there were NO private schools that could address her unique learning disabilities. Her parents were shocked when they were told that she needed to be homeschooled. Tragically, the family discovered that the little girl had a life threatening illness that forced her into the hospital for months at a time while she battled for her life. During this time period, hip hop music and pop culture remained a driving force in her journey, carrying her through her darkest hours. Unfortunately, she continued to endure heartbreaking bullying and isolation by her peers, both in person and cyberspace.
However, despite her insurmountable challenges, by the time she turned 13, she became a professional journalist, becoming the youngest writer under contract with The New York Times, writing for several teen magazines and becoming the youngest filmmaker to have her documentary screened at the Festival de Cannes in France. Although she was confided to a hospital bed, tethered by tubes and machines, her voice became endless, reaching people all over the world. At last, her superpower was found.
Simultaneously, while the little girl was being urgently rushed to the hospital and ultimately trapped there, her seven-year-old baby brother was struggling at school and suffering too. Although he was the “healthy child,” life became a huge battle for him as well. Because of his sister’s life and death traumas, daily triage pushed him aside temporarily until he could eventually be properly tested for learning disabilities so that his educational needs could be met.
Although school remained an ordeal for him everyday, often forced to endure bullying from his peers too, he discovered his focus through the lens of a camera. By the time he turned 13, he became a professional photojournalist working for various news outlets, including PBS, NPR and Chinese Television. His award winning work has been published in The Washington Post. Finally, his superpowers were unleashed through both his still and video images.
Through perseverance, positive encouragement, motivation and inspiration, these children have overcome their obstacles--no more self-limitation! Now, the sky is the limit. How do I know? This is my story.