My teen blogger extraordinaire, author and philanthropist Alyssa Antoci, was recently featured in Central Coast Kind Magazine. Alyssa’s family would love to share the text of that interview with you. We have also provided a link where you can scroll through the online version of the magazine to see how the article came out. It’s beautiful!
Astounding Accomplishments, When Little Feet Take Big Steps
By Dennis Eamon Young
ALYSSA ANTOCI, Author of The Purple Marble(a children’s book that became a musical play), has been on the road of giving and kindness since she was eight years old.
As I sat down with Alyssa, now fifteen and her mother, Tiffany, I was struck with her quiet demeanor and a sense that here was a normal teenager, regardless of her accomplishments. There was an easy sense of self-possession about her, not a driven publicity seeker, as could have been the case. I felt that she would rather have been out riding her horse named Nicki, than to talk about herself.
Alyssa tells me about the bullying she herself had experienced, to note that it sparked a desire in her to do something about it. The path she chose was to write The Purple Marble, when she was eight, with to aim to her focus on showing others what a terrible thing it is being bullied and how much better it is for everyone when we stop/change that type of behavior. She had been at work on it when she met best-selling author, Sheri Fink, who had come to Alyssa’s school to talk about her first book, The Little Rose, also centered on bullying. Alyssa told Sheri about her book and asked if Sheri would read it.
“From the moment I met Alyssa, I knew she was extra special.” Sheri says in the forward to The Purple Marble. “I was impressed that she had taken on such a challenging subject and followed her inspiration at such an early age. I know that Alyssa will continue to have a profound positive impact on the world through her books, her charity and her being.”
Born under the artistic sign of Pieces, Alyssa had begun to write stories at a younger age, but The Purple Marble imbued her with a sense of mission, to reach out to others about how this epidemic in our schools does not have to be. She crafted the various elements of bullying, found a way to stop this terrible affliction and even turned it around to a more positive outcome.
Sheri Fink soon became her mentor. She would visit and help Alyssa along the way. Her mom, Tiffany, obtained a place for Alyssa in a writing camp and she began the challenging task to learn editing, with professional editor Lori Polydoros. This is a hard-working girl with a big heart and a love to share.
Alyssa comes to the arena of philanthropy by way of a strong work and a giving family. Her grandmother struggled as a single mom. Her mother, Tiffany, trained in Theatre at UCLA, worked as an actress, now is a full-time mother and worked with husband, Vito, building their home. She also works for both of their charities, Just A Little Cloth and Strength Behind Stars. This is a hardworking, loving family, supportive and always up for a challenge. She and sister, Olivia, like to cook up innovative ideas for ways to help others and they help each other remain kind and thoughtful.
Although she is currently at work on a new book, Alyssa is eye-ball deep in ways to keep The Purple Marble on the front burner, so it can continue to make a difference. She speaks with school groups who have read the book to explore the problems and solutions that are available. She likes to tell the groups how her mom invited the girl who chased her, called her names and even pushed her, to come over with her mom, so they could talk it out. That girl not only apologized but they also became friends. They have lost touch because they now go to different schools. She stresses that it may not be easy but is worth the time and effort in the long run, as she listens to the students share their own experiences.
“I wrote The Purple Marble to inspire kids not to bully,” Alyssa writes. “It would be a magnificent world if everybody was nice to each other. If kids read my book, it might help them if they’re getting bullied. This story could teach them to stand up for themselves. It might teach the bullies what is the right thing to do. We all make mistakes. It’s how we fix our mistakes that makes us better people.”
She is not the type to be a one-track pony, when she sees a need and can find a way to help, she does. Alyssa and her best friend, Brooke, started a foundation called Just A Little Cloth Inc. when they were eight, to provide other girls with nice dresses. Under that umbrella her sister, Olivia, has begun a charity called Just A Little Sole, gathering shoes for the Santa Ynez Mission as well as local schools for children at Christmas. Tiffany has provided a guiding hand along the way.
Alyssa and Olivia are both on the board of an all-girl non-profit organization called Strength Behind Stars that provides Jeans for Teensand other Kids, with friends Lauren Flaherty, Cassidy Barba, Ella Christianson, Alana Hinkins, Lauren Meyers, Olivia Cortopassi, Lizzie Lopes, Demory Frausto, and Cloe Christianson. They have two board members who work in Newport Beach, Owen Logan and Coco Chinnici, who also work the Jeans for Teens project in that area. The board has also incorporated an anti-bullying, peer-to-peer mentoring program into local schools, called Ambassadors for Kindness.
When Tiffany Antoci sent Alyssa’s book to Leo Cortez, director of PCPA OUTREACH, the only training program of its kind offered by a community college (ALLAN HANCOCK), he was quite taken with the sophistication of the book. Alyssa chose to make the lead character a boy (based upon a male relative who’d been bullied) rather than herself. The group of characters were a perfect numerical fit for Leo’s small musical play. Her obvious awareness of the core issues and practical solutions, including a workbook section at the end, for classroom and home use, struck him as unique. All these points led Leo to believe this would be a valuable production.
When I caught up with Leo Cortez by phone, he was very enthusiastic about the reception The Purple Marble had received in forty-two schools from Santa Ynez to Paso Robles, played for sixty-six performances in front of 22,000 students and parents between January 31 and March 17 of 2018.
“Parents, teachers and students cried,” Leo said. “Parents were thanking me for bringing this timely piece of work to them and were awestruck that it had been conceived by an eight-year old. The characters are so well written that they are easy for everyone to connect with because they are drawn from real life. This is a story that goes well beyond Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. It addresses a national problem and points the way for us to reverse a terrible trend.”
In the Dedication section of her book, Alyssa writes “Lastly, I would like to thank all of the parents, teachers and children that will be reading my book and taking to heart the message of ‘being kind to everyone.’The world would be a better place…trust me!” After many pages of being mean and nasty throughout the book, we find that the bully himself has been bullied. The hero of the story treats him nice and the bully confides “Nobody has ever been so nice to me.”
Alyssa is one of four kindness leaders for new approaches to be invited to a Kindness Evolution Conference in San Francisco this April, which is set to be broadcast to millions of people. She is excited to use her “bully-pulpit” to aid in her quest to have at least one copy of The Purple Marble in every school in America. Seeing the determination in her face when she leans across the table to make a point, I can very well envision her on ELLEN, convincing young people (and many adults) across the country to not poison their lives and the lives of others.
There are many other projects I could mention, but this will give the you a fair portrait of a young lady growing into a position of prominence in our community. She, her sister and friends are the wave of the future. It’s marvelous to consider that these changes have been brought about by an eight-year old girl being bullied and what she has accomplished by taking the high road.
Alyssa is a mover and a shaker, act’s and portrays the leadership and kindness we can all inspire to achieve. A fine example of a quality human being!
Here’s the original Central Coast Kind Magazine link:
For more information:
The Purple Marble by Alyssa Antoci
Website – alyssabooks.weebly.com
You can follow Alyssa on Instagram @alyssabantoci