12 year old Julia Fleming, from Arab in Alabama, USA, is an award-winning, intelligent, young woman with a bright future in writing.
Earlier this year Julia won a State Literature title for students in grades 4-6. She surprised her teachers, parents, and friends by entering but not telling a soul when she did! The competition entailed taking a book they’d read and writing a letter to the author of the novel to explain how it impacted their lives. Julia did this without letting on that she is, in fact, legally blind.
Julia explained to WAFF News: “I’m legally blind, which means that I’m not totally blind, but that I was born totally blind,” She told of how she has had artificial cornea transplants to gain her some limited vision.
The book Julia chose to read and reflect upon was Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Hardin. The book isn’t an easy read; it’s a man named Shin living in shocking conditions in North Korea, and his eventual escape to the west.
The dangerous predicaments people living under the dictatorship in North Korea face touched Julia, and obviously shook her to her core. Speaking to the local news team she said:
“They don’t have a voice because their government is Communist and they can’t talk unless they’re permitted. As Americans, we can’t imagine that. These camps are like concentration camps.”
Her English teacher Mary Anne Crowder speaks highly of Julia and all she has accomplished, “She’s an inspiration to all of us, all that’s she’s been able to accomplish,” she said, “She has never let her disability hold her back”.
Julia takes the praise in her stride, however, and does not see herself as an inspirational figure: “Some people say that I inspire people. That’s great, but it’s not my life goal to inspire people”.
She is now in the running for the national title in the literature contest and if she is successful, Julia will be the first student from Alabama to win.
As well as being an award winning student, Julia has recently published her first book. Called Seymour the Snake it is all about a visually impaired snake and follows him on his adventures, trying to find something to help him see a bit better…
“I think I wanted something a little like me. That’s why it’s called Seymour The Snake.” See more.
Julia, despite not feeling the need to be an inspiration, aims high in her aspirations. Speaking to her local news team she said she would prefer a career as a judge, or owning a big company like Apple, “or being President…”, she says, “There’re some jobs that aren’t exactly the safest for a blind person to do, like being a pilot, but there’re so many things that you can do.”
We wish her the best of luck in all she does, and look forward to more of her work in the future.