Ashlen Foster likes to carry around a book about art and she also wears a hearing aid. She is introverted and wants to make new friends. This young girl is also a fictional character and a creation of Buchser Middle School student Amelia Tai, 12. In a national contest, Tai was one of the five finalists for Wonder Media Story Maker’s Create-Your-Own Character Contest.
“She was originally one of the random characters that I created,” Tai said of “Ashlen Foster.” “I thought it would be a great opportunity for everyone else to get to see her. Ashlen is hard of hearing. I know many people in my school who are hard of hearing. They use hearing aids. This character is a good way of showing people that there are many people living in the United States and in California who are hearing impaired or slightly deaf.”
Although Tai is not deaf or hearing impaired, she wanted to create a character who needs to wear a hearing aid “to show the diversity among young people.”
“My sixth-grade math teacher, Ms. Celia Biggs, told me about the contest,” Tai said. “She knew I enjoyed drawing and creating characters. I was competing to create a new character. You can add audio, record your own voice and add it to your own character. You can create different animation to match to your character.”
Biggs, a sixth-grade multiple subject teacher at Buchser Middle School, shared that voters decided who won Wonder Media’s contest.
“Winners can have their character added to the existing Story Maker characters,” Biggs said. “Amelia was one of the top five finalists. We’re very proud of Amelia. Wonder Media constantly offers contests for students. Amelia loves to draw and she’s very creative. I mentioned this contest to all my sixth-grade students. When I heard about the contest, I also thought about Amelia, one of my former students. Amelia had to design what the character looked like, write a back story — the character’s biography, fears and strengths — and share why her character was a perfect addition to the existing group of Story Maker characters.”
Biggs explained that Wonder Media Story Maker is a company that provides software and tools for kids to create animation.
“They provide all the tools for kids to learn how to create a character or animate a character,” Biggs said. “You add voices, movement and motion to your story. You can use it in your reading and your writing for any subject.”