Local mother-daughter duo Julia Grace Saffold and Jasmine Zapata are taking their movement of girl’s importance to the next level by launching two books on November 30.
The books, “Beyond Beautiful” and “The Beyond Beautiful Treasure Box,” are intended to help young girls, specifically girls of color, build a sense of self-esteem, self-awareness and self-worth.
Zapata unofficially started Beyond Beautiful six years ago as a medical student to take a different approach to impacting community health outcomes.
“From a physician’s perspective there’s a health model that basically says only 20 percent of health outcomes are based on what happens in the hospitals and clinics,” said Zapata. “The other 80 percent is based on your socioeconomic status and your environment.”
After seeing several young people battling depression and suicidal thoughts, Zapata decided to create preventative measures that could impact youth before they required medical attention.
“I went to school to be a doctor, but I would see so much and I realized I had to get out there in the communities to impact this 80 percent,” she said.
She began to mentor young women and held community events that focused on addressing the needs of young girls of color.
She eventually asked, Saffold who she’d watch do similar work her whole life, to join her.
“I was inspired by Jasmine’s work with youth,” said Saffold.
The day the two were to collaborate for the first time on a Beyond Beautiful event, Saffold decided she wanted to present something that would have a lasting impact on the youth she encountered.
“I just remember how badly I wanted to spread this message and really partner with the movement,” Saffold said. “Just watching her I wanted to help propel this Beyond Beautiful movement.”
This inspired Saffold to write her book in one day.
“I just started typing and I was thinking I have to try to relate these messages to younger groups and that’s how that was birthed,” she said.
She read the book at the event later that day and it was well received.
“At the event as I read the story I felt the power of the message,” she said.
Now both women have self-published books that summarize the foundation of their work.
Zapata’s book is based on a poem she uses as a foundation for many of her workshops.
It is a narrative that mixes her personal experiences, her professional insight and words from women of all ages about what it means to be beyond beautiful.
Saffold’s book tells the fictional tale of a young girl on a journey to reclaim her inner treasure.
“There’s so many stories that we have and that’s where we pour out from, it’s all just an outflow of what we’ve been through and it seems to really impact people,” Saffold said.
In addition to working with youth, Saffold also focuses many of her lessons on parents and teaching them how to pour into their children.
“I think a part of my calling, being the older one of the two of us, is to speak to the parents,” she said. “I want to talk to the parents and tell them to believe in their children”
Though both books are already for sale, they will official the launch next Thursday.
The launch will take place at the Meadowridge Library from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m feature games, prizes, breakout sessions and a performance by Trilogy.
The event is open to girls of all ages and their families. Saffold will also hold a breakout session geared specifically to parents and families.
Books will be purchase during the event and signed, personalized copies can be ordered online and both books will available in the Madison and Verona public library systems.
Both Zapata and Saffold plan to continue their mission of building up youth through workshops and speaker series and partnering with local organizations, youth groups, schools and churches.
“This is a mission, a ministry, and a movement. This is not just a book,” Saffold said.