Looking for female role models to inspire young women to aspire to become role models themselves? Look no further than a new business venture established by two middle school students in Baltimore City.
Roland Park Middle School is an urban elementary/middle school in the Baltimore City Public Schools. The school strives to “empower our diverse community of learners to achieve academic excellence. Teaching and learning at Roland Park provide a positive, engaging, and challenging environment for creative and critical thinking.”
“Creative”? They don’t know the half of it. Few things are more inspiring than a well-researched business plan to create a product that inspires others and then turns around and contributes a portion of the profits to advance important missions for women and girls around the world.
Now two middle school students at Roland Park—Hope Sacco and Anna Doherty—have used an entrepreneurship project to publish and market a coloring book entitled Girls Coloring for Change: Inspiring Girls, One Book at a Time.
It’s available from Amazon for about $10, and the girls say, once their business takes off, they’re going to donate a portion of their profits to the Malala Fund, which works to enable girls to complete 12 years of safe, quality education so that they can achieve their potential and be positive change-makers in their families and communities.
In the meantime, these two Roland Park students have become the change they want to see in the world, and they’re inspiring other girls. Each female role model in their book has two pages. On the left-facing page for each woman is a brief synopsis of why the girls feel they’ve been inspired by the woman; on the right-facing page is a picture you can color if you want.
Their project recently won a $25,000 first prize from the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. “We want girls to know that no matter what they look like, they have the power to change the world,” the Baltimore Sun quoted Anna, 13, as saying.
I colored the picture for Leana Wen, who was the girls’ first choice and is the Baltimore City health commissioner. (Unfortunately, I went outside the lines, like I always do, and I can’t show you my portrait.) Dr Wen’s part in the city’s recovery following the 2015 riots is well known. NPR asked “Can a 32-year-old doctor cure Baltimore’s ills?” in August 2015. But the girls credit her with knowing that “media can portray a city or a region more negatively than it truly is.”
In all, the coloring book includes portraits of 20 women and then has a page at the end with just some scenery. That page is entitled “Self” and appears to be a place for the person who’s coloring to draw and color a self-portrait.
When a young person, even a gifted one, grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become—whether lawyer, scientist, artist, or leader in any realm—her goal remains abstract. But a role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, “Yes, someone like me can do this.”
—US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in My Beloved World
Quoted on the back cover of the coloring book