Final 12 months was a difficult time for the world and the Twin Cities — first with the pandemic after which with the Minneapolis police-involved dying of George Floyd. Whereas adults have struggled with the turmoil, youngsters have additionally grappled with understanding the unrest occurring round them.
To assist convey love and light-weight to darkish points similar to systemic racism and social injustice in a manner that youngsters can perceive, Eric Ortiz, 47, labored along with his 8-year-old daughter, Emilia, and 5-year-old son, Calum, college students at Risen Christ Catholic Faculty in Minneapolis, to publish a youngsters’s e-book.
“Risen Christ is just a few blocks from the place Floyd was killed on Memorial Day,” Ortiz mentioned. “Our youngsters noticed and heard the rioting that adopted in Minneapolis. They’re conscious of the trauma that’s impacting communities within the metropolis. However these items are all heavy points, even for adults.”
The e-book, titled “How the Zookalex Saved the Village,” is about somebody who’s totally different and mistreated by others due to these variations. However as a substitute of responding with hate, the mistreated one responds with love, and one thing fantastic occurs.
“We wished to create a narrative about equity, acceptance and dealing collectively to construct group. I wished to indicate my children the facility of giving, empathy and peace,” Ortiz mentioned. “We hope that our story can present an uplifting message for everybody who reads it, youngsters and adults alike.”
The thought of making a e-book as a household got here earlier than the social unrest and earlier than COVID-19 hit Minnesota onerous in March 2020. These occasions merely impressed them extra to inform a superb story.
“We wished our story to narrate to some problems with this second and assist our youngsters (and different children) higher perceive what is occurring in Minneapolis and past,” Ortiz mentioned. “Though I wrote the e-book with my two youthful children, it was a household mission, with the complete help of my spouse (Maria, 38) and oldest daughter” Eva, 13, who’s graduating from Risen Christ in June and plans to attend DeLaSalle Excessive Faculty in Minneapolis.
It took about 9 months to finish the e-book. Ortiz developed the story concept along with his son early final 12 months and shared it with Emilia. They talked concerning the story, Ortiz typed all the things up and shared the outcomes along with his youngsters for suggestions and ideas.
“We had our first draft of the story in April. The story advanced over time and went via many revisions and rewrites. We completed the written copy in November and I put it into e-book format,” Ortiz mentioned. “That’s after we began doing the illustrations. My daughter created the Zookalex drawing and made the duvet. Then, my son drew an image, I drew just a few photos, and my daughter drew the remainder.”
The e-book was self-published and is obtainable for $11.99 on Amazon.
Religion performed a giant function for the Ortiz household, members of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.
“The Catholic Church has a historical past of social educating that challenges us to stay responsibly and construct a simply society. Social justice is a vital a part of Catholic custom, and is on the coronary heart of our household’s religion,” mentioned Ortiz, who attended Loyola Excessive Faculty in Los Angeles.
“I used to be taught the Ignatian ideally suited of ‘being a person for others,’ primarily based on the life and teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola,” he mentioned. “This ideally suited says that each resolution and each motion must be accomplished for the higher glory of God. I attempt to stay my life like this and put St. Ignatius’ essential educating into apply.”
Being unselfish and placing the wants of others earlier than their very own is how Ortiz and his spouse are elevating their children. They reinforce the idea that every one individuals are one human household, no matter nationwide, racial, ethnic, financial and ideological variations there is likely to be.
Ortiz and his children spoke concerning the e-book to Calum’s kindergarten class at Risen Christ, a preschool class in Minneapolis and a second-grade class in New York. College students and lecturers cherished the e-book, and the Ortiz household loved the expertise of speaking concerning the story and its themes.
“We might like to proceed these e-book readings and discussions with college students and the group right here in Minneapolis or wherever,” Ortiz mentioned.
A board member of the household’s neighborhood affiliation, the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Affiliation, Ortiz helps lead a group mentorship fundraising effort for Brothers EMpowered, which offers programming and companies for youth in north Minneapolis, encouraging them to be constructive contributors to their group and excel in life. The Ortiz household is giving half of the proceeds from promoting “How the Zookalex Saved the Village” to Brothers EMpowered. The aim is to separate $10,000; they’re greater than midway there.
As soon as they attain that aim, the household will give 50% of e-book gross sales to Risen Christ Catholic Faculty, the one Catholic twin immersion faculty in Minnesota. It offers a bilingual training in Spanish and English to a various group of learners.
“The truth that the household has chosen Risen Christ as a beneficiary of what they earn from this e-book may be very significant,” mentioned Michael Rogers, president of Risen Christ Faculty. “Their donation actually signifies that they’re supporting different households. The Ortiz youngsters are supporting their mates. Their help tells me that they imagine in our want to make Catholic training reasonably priced to all Risen Christ households.”
Giving his youngsters the primary royalty funds from the e-book was fantastic, Ortiz mentioned.
“It confirmed them the outcomes and rewards of their work,” he mentioned. “They may proceed to get royalty funds from this e-book because the e-book continues to promote. However from right here on out, all the things is gravy. We didn’t make this e-book to get wealthy. The entire level of this e-book mission was to supply a easy, real-life lesson for my children concerning the worth of onerous work and turning your creativeness right into a reward.”
It’s additionally about giving again to the group, Ortiz mentioned.
“As an alternative of simply serving to my children be taught some useful life classes, we now have a chance to assist many extra folks,” he mentioned. “We’re occupied with this e-book as a automobile for a higher good past our household.”
— Maura Keller
Class: Local News