Sebastian and Valentina Calderon – Youth on the Rise

Shining Brownies
6 and 9 | Education: Episcopal School of Dallas

Sebastian and Valentina Calderon may only be 6 and 9, respectively, but the siblings are already making a difference through their nonprofit Shining Brownies.

The brother and sisters have provided food, Christmas and Mother’s Day gifts, Halloween candy, and Thanksgiving meals to clients of Family Gateway, a nonprofit serving children and families impacted by homelessness.

“Shining Brownies is our favorite nonprofit cause because we created it with our family in 2020 during the Pandemic,” the siblings said. “We love helping families in need and seeing them smile.”

Valentina is also a published author. Her first book, Unipaw’s Adventures: The Friends of the Forest, came out on Amazon in January of 2021.

Valentina plans to donate 25% of the profits from the book to their nonprofit work.

“​​I motivate others because I have written and published a book which talks about the power of friendship. It took a lot of dedication, love, and patience,” Valentina said. “I hope I inspire kids like me to follow their dreams.”

As for what they plan to do in the future, Valentina hopes to become a pediatrician or an actress, and Sebastian hopes to become a scientist or an artist.

“I see myself writing more books and going to college,” Valentina said. “I also want to keep helping kids in need in the U.S. and abroad.”

What are you most excited about for the future?

Valentina: I am most excited to travel and see the world. I love to experience new things and meet new people. I want to keep helping people in need. I would also love for Shining Brownies to reach more people beyond Texas.

If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

Valentina: A book I would give to my neighbor is called Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. I choose this book because it is very inspiring. A girl named Melody cannot move or speak on her own, but she is the smartest in her class and accomplishes great things despite her disabilities. She speaks by computer, and she is in a wheelchair. The lesson of the book is that no matter what limitations you have, you can achieve your goals with perseverance and patience.

Sebastian: I would give my neighbors the Who Would Win book series by Jerry Pallotta. These books are very cool and teach about animals

How do you motivate others?

Valentina: I motivate others because I have written and published a book which talks about the power of friendship. It took a lot of dedication, love, and patience. Part of the proceeds of my book sales go to our family nonprofit organization. I hope I inspire kids like me to follow their dreams.

Sebastian: I motivate other by creating cool art which takes a lot of creativity and patience.

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, former deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order.

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