This past March, Genius Patch partnered with DC based nonprofit Competitive By Nature. Competitive By Nature co-founder and 2nd grade teacher Mr. Eugene Banks contacted the Genius Patch Team earlier this year to request a special program for his students. He experienced Genius Patch’s work with children personally when founder and published children’s author “Mrs. Ashlee” visited all the 1st and 2nd grade students at DC Prep this past October. “Mrs. Ashlee” was there to autograph books for each student and lead Genius Patch Read & Play Workshops. Mr. Banks’ class was one of those participating.
The experience left an impression, as Mr. Banks became passionate about leveraging the excitement the 1st and 2nd graders felt from the experience. He envisioned a creative way to engage students in literacy activities and fitness activities. In short, he wanted to challenge students to exercise their bodies and minds. He thought “Mr.s Ashlee” would be a great way to do it. When asked why he wanted to work with Genius Patch again, he said:
“I was really intrigued by the impact that [“Mrs. Ashlee”] and Genius Patch had on my students. To have them meet a real author that looks like them truly blew their minds. We talk all the time in school about the importance of reading and writing but to see someone that looks like them creating engaging stories is something our students need to see more of. I knew I wanted to have[“Mrs. Ashlee”} come back to our school but this time find a way to challenge and put the heavy lift on the students. That is when [the Genius Patch Team] told me about the literacy program where students will have the opportunity to write their own book and possibly get it published. I knew we had to make it happen. With this initiative we have an opportunity to inspire our children to successfully do anything they put their mind to.”-Eugene Banks, 2nd grade teacher, DC Prep
Together, Genius Patch partnered with Mr. Banks’ nonprofit, Competitive By Nature to run a challenge for the month of March under its Junior Storyteller Program initiative called “I Dream of Characters that Look Like Me”. While Junior Storyteller is a program in which all children have an opportunity to find a love of creative writing, I Dream of Characters that Look Like Me is specifically focused on children of color. With a disparity in literacy rates and diversity in children’s literature, the initiative invites children of color to help lessen these gaps by becoming authors themselves.
For this partnership challenge, 1st and 2nd grade DC Prep students would, 1. participate in a fitness challenge led by Competitive by Nature, 2. read a “Mrs. Ashlee” book and write a book report for it and 3. write an original story. At the end of the challenge, “Mrs. Ashlee” and the Genius Patch Team would fly out to Washington D.C. from Detroit to celebrate all the contestants and announce a winner from 1st grade and a winner from 2nd grade.
With so many wonderful stories to choose from, the Genius Patch Team had a tough job to select one winner from each grade. But with a story that made everyone feel good about being a “cool kid”, 1 st grader Laurent Holland was the winner for his grade. With a story about a boy and a bee, 2nd grader Zayden Saxton won the judges over and made them dream of summer.
Each winner will have the opportunity to work with “Mrs. Ashlee” to further develop their story, have it professionally illustrated and printed as a keepsake for their friends and family to enjoy. The winners will also have their books added to the Genius Patch Junior Storyteller Library alongside books created by other children through Genius Patch’s story writing program. The books will be donated to other children around the world, as well, in an effort to increase their willingness and desire to engage in literacy based activities.
CONGRATULATIONS to our 2019 DC Prep Junior Storyteller Winners! Be sure to check back to see the finished books.
To see our I Dream of Characters that Look Like Me Contest Celebration recap, click here.
Ready to have a contest of your own? Email us at email@example.com