The RBC “Flaunt It” Award is a new opportunity within the Scholastic Awards this year for teens who recognize what makes them unique and embrace their differences. Students were asked to explore the theme “The things that make me different, make me, me.” Works from all grades and across all categories of art and writing were considered for this award, with more than 10,000 submissions self-identified as eligible. After reviewing a pool of finalists, The Don’t Hide It, Flaunt It organization’s founder, Meg Zucker, and the Teen Board she convened were invited to select one artist and one writer to be the first recipients of The RBC “Flaunt It” Award.
Congratulations to this year’s recipients, Sydney Maddox and Peyton Vasquez!
Number Won, Film & Animation by Sydney Maddox, Grade 12, Barnstable High School, Hyannis, MA
Sydney states that, “I liked filming this because it’s an upbeat song talking about my confidence in myself. There aren’t many young, female rappers and this is something I want to pursue and keep improving, along with filming and editing. I wrote this song in an almost overly cocky way. It’s okay to be proud of yourself and show off a little. You owe that to yourself every once and a while.”
The panelists felt Sydney’s self-confidence shine through. “While celebrating difference is certainly the overarching theme of ’don’t hide it, flaunt it,’ believing in oneself unconditionally is the key to that goal . . . While Sydney Maddox may not look different, the minute those three boys in the video told her she couldn’t rap because she was a girl, she was made to feel different. And, like all of us when faced with judgment, Sydney had a choice. She could allow herself to be defined by others, or she could adopt a mindset to succeed. Her rapping, ‘I’m number one,’ was Sydney’s expression of belief in herself and all the good that will follow.”
The kids at this get together are cancer patients or siblings of cancer patients. We meet like this so that we all feel normal. Some of the kids don’t have eyes. Some are bald. Some don’t have legs. One of us is in a wheelchair. I have to wear tinted protective lenses at all times. That’s right. I wear sunglasses at night. But here that’s normal and no one stares or asks annoying questions.
Excerpted from The Floppy Arm, Personal Essay & Memoir by Peyton Vasquez, Grade 8, Age 13, Bonnette Junior High School, Deer Park, TX. Read more of Peyton’s work.
The panelists felt that Peyton’s piece “eloquently shared how his experience with cancer impacted him and his family and how he mentally (and ultimately physically) persevered” and that “it was important to recognize Peyton’s work and give voice to children enduring illness and reaffirm that they need not feel alone in their experiences.”
Congratulations again to Sydney and Peyton! And thank you to RBC Capital Markets for their support of this award and these extraordinary students.