Maria Antonio '23 Bubbles Energy While Promoting Inclusion And Kindness in Book

Maria Antonio '23 always wanted to be an author and decided in 2021 to write a children's book. Six months later, "Field Day for Eugene," a short tale with a kind message, was published.

To say that Antonio (a triple major in Childhood Education, Special Education, and English Literature) is energetic is an understatement. Even with a packed academic schedule, Antonio was co-president of the Gold Key Student Ambassadors, co-president of the Teach Club, and president of Phi Eta Sigma, the International Honor Society. She also regularly made the Dean's List.

"You can do anything that you put your mind to," Antonio said. "There is never a time in life where you should be afraid of achieving something. Set a goal, make a plan, and go after it."

Clearly following her own advice she was undaunted by the book-writing process.

Antonio chose to write a children's book about a young boy named Eugene, who is an elementary-aged student with a physical disability. His classmates realize his wheelchair makes it difficult for him to participate in field day activities. But the class members learn that Eugene is capable of amazing things, and the book reinforces the values of kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.

"When I was in school, there were times when children were mean to each other," Antonio said. "But I was lucky, my family instilled in me the need to be kind. And my education classes set a foundation for inclusion. They showed me what inclusion can look like in the classroom and how we can encourage and foster acceptance."

Once the book was written, she began the process of finding a publisher. She quickly secured Halo Publishing International, and launched the book in August 2022. Since that time, Antonio has done media interviews, book signings, and even created a program within area schools to spread the book's message.

"It was surprising how seamless it went," she said.

"I love that Maria's book talks so much about kindness and inclusion," said Amy Reed, an Elementary Teacher at Canaseraga Central School. "The way that the message in the book is portrayed is very easy for young children to understand. It is also a topic that should be approached more often."

Reed said her students were very interested in the book as Maria read to them.

"Many of them were able to understand the message in the book without even being told. They had many interesting questions and comments about the book's messages," said Reed.

Antonio said she has only just begun her book-writing career.

"My goal is to add more books to my classroom collection," she said.

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