Two Children's Books With Local Ties Highlight Inclusion

Picture of Holden Frye (looking at all the pages of his book laid out in front of him) and Ava Allenberg (holding book Ballerina on Wheels)
10-Year-Old Pittsburgh Native Writes, Designs Children’s Books

After a Mikayla’s Voice inclusion assembly at Hoover Elementary School, 10-year-old Holden Frye was inspired to write a children’s fiction book about the non-profit’s logo, a ladybug with one yellow spot. Dot is a “teenage ladybug with a cool and different look, and life is good… but it wasn’t always that way.” The challenges she faces are relatable to any child who has ever felt different.

Holden, now age 11, returned to his elementary school to read his book titled “The SpOt” to the entire student body as the highlight of a school-wide celebration of inclusion. Carole Clancy, Pennsylvania’s Director of Special Education at the PA Department of Education, attended and presented Holden with an award. In reference to the award, Dr. Sherri Smith, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, shared, “It is a true privilege to recognize students that exemplify the values of the Pennsylvania Department of Education of equity, inclusion, and belonging. We are so proud of Mr. Holden Frye for his accomplishments and for being a role model for all our students. Congratulations Holden!”

Thanks to a donation from The Law Offices of Steidl & Steinberg, Mikayla’s Voice was able to gift a copy of Holden’s book to every kindergarten and first-grade class in Allegheny County. Achieva partnered with Mikayla’s Voice to coordinate book distribution to 43 school districts and a dozen charter schools.

Young Ballerina Shows the World What She Can Accomplish

People have a way of making assumptions about the things one can or cannot do, especially when disability is involved. Ava Allenberg has never accepted those societal limitations.
Ava uses a wheelchair for mobility. It could have been easy to assume that she would never dance. Yet, rather than accepting a seat in the audience during her sister’s ballet class, Ava moved about the dance floor under the instruction of Sam Skobel, a teacher at Cynthia’s School of Dance.

Lauren Price, Ava’s mother, states, “Ava continuously shows the world how unstoppable she is. Since day one of her life… ‘Never’ hasn’t been in her vocabulary. Ava makes us proud by showing the world what she can accomplish.”

A new book, written by Dr. Cindy Zurchin, owner of Cynthia’s School of Dance, may help dismiss the stigmas placed upon people with disabilities. Ballerina on Wheels – Amazing Ava’s First Dance Recital was released on Amazon on April 18, 2022.

The Achieva Family Trust, which provides support for Ava and her family, hosted a book signing event on June 8, 2022. Emcee Kelly Frey introduced Ava, who read the story to attendees and signed copies of the newly released book.

“Ava’s story exemplifies Achieva’s vision for all people with disabilities to live a life of personal significance. We couldn’t think of a better way to support Ava and spread the message of inclusion than by hosting an event in her honor,” said Amy Dolan Strano, President of Achieva Family Trust.

Read more in Summer Newsletter