On May 28, 2019, I had the immense pleasure to be invited to eight Black authors’ showcasing their work to the public at the Three Masks Event Center and art gallery in Orlando, Fla. The authors range from the ages of 6 to 11, both boys and girls, and everyone had big smiles on their faces. Not only were the young authors smiling but the parents were extremely proud of their children.

Three Masks is an event center that is sharing Africa from within. The location is an African gift store located downtown that specializes in items straight from the motherland—masks, statues, jewelry and African attire. They are the official African ambassadors to Central Florida, and their location is a wonderful place to showcase the young authors’ books.

Project Inspiring Amazing Minds is a non-academic yet academic supporting curriculum one hour twice a week with certified teachers. The children learn valuable lessons in self-confidence, self-expression, and learn how to make a difference in the community. Dr. Sydel LeGrande is the founder of the project, and the program is in three different schools currently.

At the young authors’ event was the owner/director of The Lion of Judah Academy, where the students are educated. Judith Shealey, director of the school, explained how she connected with the project and how it is making a difference in her school.

“I just adore Ms. Diana, and she comes to the school on Mondays, and works with the children with the project I.A.M. We share the same vision. The things that she does with project I.A.M., introducing the children to what they can do in life, is awesome. She is one of the teachers that work with the children from kindergarten to the third grade. She reinforces to the children who they are, with the words, I am somebody,” related Shealey.

This author project started by working with the children and getting them motivated to express how they feel with what they are being taught. The children who were too young to write a book did a picture book, but the students who were a little older completed a word book. This project has motivated the school director to have all the classes from kindergarten to 12th grade write books next year.

“My name is Vaughn Mckenzie and in this project I.A.M., we do what is right. So I wrote this book in my encouragement, to do what I want to accomplish in life. When I finished the book, I was proud of myself,” said new author Vaughn Mckenzie.

This was the first time mom saw the book and she was ecstatic. As a result of the program, the mother said her two sons are starting to express themselves and come out of their shell.

Education is the key to transforming our children and our communities. This project was an example of Black children loving themselves and having positive goals for the future. Here are some of the titles of the books: “Vaughn’s Journey to Greatness—Getting to Know Me,” author Vaughn Mckenzie; “Faith Celebrating Faith—Getting to Know Faith,” author Faith Gant; “I Am a Symbol of Pride,” author Kenya Jackson; and “How I See Me,” author Malachi the Messenger.

It was a beautiful experience talking to young students who loved the skin they are in. School work is important to them. “One of the project’s primary initiatives is to be a change agent, transforming economically disenfranchised communities plagued with violence into peaceful economically strong neighborhoods,” said LeGrande, founder of Change the Game for a New Generation and Project I.A.M.

For more information call 813-433-3976 or email sydellegrande@gmail.com.