The Zenith Project is an opportunity for freestyle students to tackle a project of their choosing. Students are allowed to pick a project that they are passionate about and execute it using all the skills they have developed at freestyle over the past two years.

For my Zenith project, I am planning to write a children’s book about body image. Body image is something that I am personally passionate about and have seen so many people struggle with. It was a topic I wanted to delve in deeper into and thus wrote my english research paper on. I decided that I wanted to implement what I learned into a children’s book because I am also passionate about kids and education. I am planning on becoming an elementary school teacher and it would be so incredible to read a book I wrote and illustrated myself to my class. My vision for this book is focused on the idea that your body is a paintbrush and it’s the mark on the world that matters, not the tool that is used. I think this metaphor is so relevant and powerful and puts a complex idea into a really simple form that a child can understand.

This project will be a challenge for me as I have never written a children’s book before. This is new territory that I will have to learn as I go. I will be using some of the same applications that I have used in the past but will need to use them in order to execute something completely unique.

One of the first things I wanted to do was find inspiration for my book. There are thousands of amazing children’s book authors and I wanted to discover my own sense of style by looking at the work of others.

Below I have my completed book. There are still many things that I wish to change but ultimately I believe the product represents my vision.

ARVE Error: Mode: lazyload not available (ARVE Pro not active?), switching to normal mode

I was super excited going into Zenith. I loved watching the presentations last year and seeing the amazing things Freestyle kids came up with. I love being independent and the opportunity to pursue something I was passionate about sounded amazing. Last year, when I was in film I had this whole idea to do a documentary about autism. I wanted to interview my brother and other families who struggle with a family members with autism. As I transitioned to design this year, my vision changed dramatically. I have known that I want to be an elementary school teacher for a very long time, and I really want to be able to use my Freestyle skills in my future career. I don’t have a clear picture of what that looks like yet, but I thought writing and illustrating a book that I could use in my class could be a super cool way to merge the two. I knew that I wanted to make my book meaningful and not just a cute story. I wanted the book to impact the reader on a deeper level and hopefully teach them a lesson that they could use later in life.

Body image has always been something I have struggled with. My Dad is 6’4 and my Mom is 5’7 which resulted in me, a 6’2 giant. This means that I was always the tallest in my class and much taller than my peers. Although I was taught to embrace my height and be grateful for all the opportunities I have been given because of it, there was a small part of me that wished I could just look like everyone else. My mom has been the main person in my life that has helped me with my body struggles and gave me countless articles and reminders of positive ways to look at my body. One that really resonated with me was this idea that your body is a paintbrush or tool and ultimately it doesn’t matter what this instrument looks like, it matters what you leave behind. What you leave behind can be seen as the love you give to other people and the connections you make with others. I loved this idea and it is a good reminder that no matter what you look like, what ultimately is important is how you treat others during your time on this earth.

As I said before, body image has always been something I have thought about and been curious about. For my research paper for english, I decided to look more into body image and how negative body image can impact girls at a young age. The information I learned during this writing process was really interesting and gave me increased motivation to get out this message about body image. During this process, I was constantly asking for help from my peers. I would like to specifically shoutout Makeda and Kaitlyn for just being amazing and helping and encouraging me throughout this process. If I was to do this project over, I would probably try and pace myself a little better. There were some additional projects that I hoped to get done and didn’t have the chance to because I did not pace myself well. I think I improved on many of the 21st century skills throughout the course of this project, but creativity and imagination was one that I think was especially important. I do not consider myself an illustrator or good artist in general and so to design an entire book was difficult and took more time than I expected. In order to execute my vision I had to think in unique creative ways that I hadn’t before.

As mentioned previously, I see myself using this book later in life when I am a teacher. This book was really fun to make and hopefully I can make more in the future. This zenith project meant a lot to me. To be honest, after I finished the book I did not feel that proud of it. I thought it was good, but I tend to be my own worst critic and almost always find myself thinking that I could do better. It was only after I was recognized by Ms. P and my peers that I began to think I could really make something out of it. There are more messages that I want to spread to children about being happy, positive and just better people, so I think this project ignited my passion to spread those ideas. Working by myself, I had to challenge myself in new ways thus elevating my skills and experiences. Out of all the projects I have done at Freestyle, I 100% believe this was my best/most successful. I think one of the main reasons I feel that way is because it was done all on my own. The fact that I was given the opportunity to spread a message that is so important to me and I think needs to be heard by so many people is amazing and something I will always remember and be thankful for. This project has helped me in so many ways and given me a new found confidence to pursue my passion and a reassurance that I am doing what I was meant to do.