With all the negative and depressing things happening in the news these days, it was refreshing to find out that a mother (Densie Sheppard) and her fifteen-year old daughter (Jamie Sheppard) put together a quarterly magazine aimed at featuring positive accomplishments of kids and their impact in their various communities.
The magazine is called CONTAGIOUS and it’s a “platform for kids/teens to share their good deeds and talents.”
Why the name ‘Contagious’? Well, in Densie’s own words:
“I wanted something bold, something that would make people stop and look and want to read. And of course, the name contagious says it all!!! I want to spread love, kindness and compassion.”
And now, let’s welcome Densie and Jamie.
AMM: What gave you the idea for creating CONTAGIOUS?
DENSIE: I had three inspirations in producing Contagious. The first was my daughter, Jamie. She started writing very inspirational poems, which were so deep and uplifting that I initially thought about publishing a book of poems written by her. I wanted kids her age in particular, to have the opportunity to read them, and see her perspective on life. But the thought ended there.
I also wanted to spread positivity throughout communities, and the actual impetus behind this desire resulted from the death of a boy named Evan Ziemniak. Although the details of what happened aren’t included, the impact of his life is captured in an article written by Jamie in CONTAGIOUS, entitled “Honoring Evan Ziemniak [In Celebration of His Life]”.
My third and final inspiration came while I was watching CCN news every morning. World news is sometimes the most horrific and disheartening news you can possibly hear. That’s when a light bulb went off in my head. I had a vision of kids spreading only good news. I started brainstorming how I could make it possible. Then the idea of the magazine popped into my head. Initially it was only supposed to be good deeds but then I decided to highlight talented and accomplished kids as well, as a way of encouraging other kids to want to succeed, and follow their passions. This way, I can give every child a chance to be featured. For instance, if a child is not academically inclined or hasn’t found his or her talent yet, he/she can do a good deed and be an inspiration in some way.
AMM: I’m blown away by your words Densie. I’m so glad you followed through with your idea. Jamie, what do you wish to achieve through CONTAGIOUS?
JAMIE: I’m hoping that Contagious Magazine will bring light to all the amazing things happening in the world around us. Maybe it will inspire other people to do good as well.
AMM: Will there be specific themes for every edition of the magazine going forward?
DENSIE: Definitely! I’ll name a few:
The good stuff from miles away – In addition to featuring kids within PA, we will be featuring a kid or kids from other states as well as from other parts of the world, showing diversity.
Inspirational poems – written by Jamie and kids from around the world.
A guest writer – I will source a guest writer from middle or high school, from the US or anywhere in the world, and have the writer interview a suitable candidate to feature in the magazine. I will also give a brief bio of the guest writer. (Starting with second issue)
Let’s make something contagious today – In every issue, we will focus on making something contagious, whether it be spreading respect, compassion or kindness. There will be a short and to-the-point paragraph on each subject.
Recipes – We will publish recipes or healthy food ideas for kids, from kids, of different age levels. (Starting with the second issue)
AMM: Densie this sounds wonderful. I’m so proud of you and what you are attempting to achieve here. I have one final question for Jamie. What has the response been like so far? Has it changed your life in any way?
JAMIE: I’ve only received positive feedback from people regarding the magazine. People seem excited, and are very keen to the idea of it. I am hoping that the magazine will have an impact on young people, whether it pushes them to succeed or encourages them to do good deeds. It has changed my life because it has given me the opportunity to improve my writing skills. It has also given me a different perspective on life as I can see a lot of good things happening with young people.
A Bit About Jamie:
Jamie self-published her first children’s novel, for ages seven to twelve, when she was in fifth grade. Soon after, she was invited by Woburn Junior Public School in Toronto, Canada, to do an author’s visit. To an audience of children, grades three to six, she gave a motivational speech about perseverance and commitment in being a young writer. Jamie, being a natural introvert was extremely nervous, but true to form, she persevered and was determined to speak.
Through her vision to help others, Jamie sold her books throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and the Caribbean, and she donated a part of the proceeds toward various schools. As a student at West Allegheny Middle School, Jamie entered the library writing competition in sixth and seventh grade, and received an honorable mention both times. She also placed first in the Patriot’s Pen writing competition in seventh grade. Her most recent accomplishment is becoming a feature writer for “The Good Stuff is ‘Contagious’” magazine.
Densie can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to CONTAGIOUS Magazine: