Anything's Possible! – Website created by Michael Sloane, Alexia's big brother.

Wicked Young Writers’ Award

Alexia was short listed for the Wicked Young Writers Award in the 11 to 14 year old category, in London on December 6th.  She was a runner-up with her story “The lyrics of Music”. Below are pictures of her at the ceremony and the host Michael Morpurgo, OBE who was the Children’s Laureate 2003 – 2005.

Alexia

Alexia on the Red Carpet, being treated like a celebrity.

alexia2

Can you spot Alexia amongst the other finalists?

Mr. Morpurgo giving the awards.

Mr. Morpurgo giving the awards.

singers

One of the singers performing at the ceremony.

Mr. Morpurgo giving a speech.

Mr. Morpurgo giving a speech.

Alexia won (again) this years Onkyo World Braille Eassy Contest (Click Here for the competition http://www.euroblind.org/projects-and-activities/activities/nr/210).

She won the Fine Works Prize, Junior Category, for her paper titled “United dots of Braille”.  She was the youngest person ever to win it when she was 9 and is now the only person to have won a prize for it twice. Yay!!!  Well done.  The paper is below:

FINE WORKS  prize winner – JUNIOR category

Alexia Sloane (11)

Title: United dots of Brailled

Country: UK

 

United dots of Braille

 

196 countries, 6909 languages but only one unique coded system of raised dots for reading and writing: Braille or the first digital form

of writing.

For more than two hundred years, six magic dots have been touched by and have touched millions of lives.

There are seven wonders of the world and there is Braille: a wonder consisting of six tiny raised dots that sighted people will never know:

to touch words and to have them touch you back.

Braille unites

Braille inspires

Braille liberates

Braille educates.

My fingers are the sky and under them

Perfect rows of buds emerge and prosper.

The world rests on my lap

Thanks to the brilliance of Braille and its master.

 

Its endurance, elegance, universality and efficiency never cease to amaze me. Not only does the Braille code work in most, if not all, languages, with all their complexities but it can also be used in musical, mathematical and computer applications. And, despite passionate debates and disagreements over the variations and use of its

codes, Braille has survived.

 

My two hands are gliding gracefully across the Braille display of my small Braille computer where the living memorial to Louis Braille lies.

Will I achieve my dream of becoming an interpreter? I feel confident  that the united dots of Braille will enable me to do so even if some people argue technology could one day replace human interpreters. I am

convinced the advances of technology will undoubtedly enable the Braille code to go even further rather than undermine it and I am confident the dancing dots of Braille will remain united. 

If only Louis Braille could have known in his lifetime the significance of his great gift to humankind and witnessed the interaction of Braille readers and users through electronic devices! He would have been astounded if he had realised the enormous success his invention became and that it would bear his name for eternity.

Like mine, I foresee the future of Braille as a single bright and busy future.

To Louis Braille and its unique united dots, all hail!

By Alexia Sloane 7 C

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Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Geoffrey  Chaucer  and Anthony Horowitz.  But when it comes to the latter, there was more than just the books on the secret bookcase.  There was the man himself standing in front of it!

I was driven in style in a black jaguar to Anthony Horowitz’s own house.  He has his very own block of flats in Clerkenwell, London.  Apart from his wife Jill Green, a TV producer, and, when they’re not at university, his two sons Nicolas and Cassian, he is the only one living there!

He has a secret bookcase in his living room in which there is a grand piano and behind which is a little room with a spiral staircase leading up to his terrace on the roof. In this bookcase lies the first ever edition of Pickwick papers, along with the silver plaque that went with it, and many, many more old, valuable and unique books.

We had a lunch of sandwiches, salad, strawberries and chocolate biscuits together, whilst talking about writing, his books, books in general (like me, his favourite author is Charles Dickens), and he gave me some advice about the book I am writing.  Then, we played the piano together, and, although Anthony says he’s not a good pianist, it’s simply not true.  He is excellent, and practices one hour a day.  We played as much Bach as possible on the piano when I told him my dad doesn’t like Bach as anyone who is remotely musical says he’s mad.  Anthony spends on average ten hours a day writing, and he says he doesn’t stop for lunch. Oh, and he hates the word ‘workaholic’!

Anthony is such a lovely approachable man, and he made so many jokes whilst we were talking. However, since not all of these jokes were the most appropriate he could have made, I’ll avoid giving examples.  He gave me about ten CDs of some of his books since these do not exist in Braille and he was truly shocked when I told him only 7% of all print books exist in Braille or in audio format. The House of Silk is his most recent novel and it has been a huge success.  It is part of the Sherlock Holmes series, and Anthony says it has a “very dark secret in the middle.” His P.A advised my parents to check out the story first before allowing me to listen to it but I begged my folks to let me have a quick listen anyway and they did!

Anthony also writes for TV quite a lot, and has written programmes such as Midsummer Murders, Foyle’s war, Murder Most Horrid and many more.  I now have Anthony’s own personal email address and believe it or not, we have already exchanged numerous emails. I gave him a card in Braille and told him he had two weeks to decipher it and get back to me. I was amazed when only two days later, I received a letter from him with the full transcription of the card in print. Until then, I had always thought that my secret code was impenetrable to sighted people who haven’t studied Braille formally!

It was undoubtedly a truly amazing and memorable day.

10 Downing Street

Wednesday 9th May 2012. What a night!

On Wednesday 9th May, I went down to London because I was invited to ….. the Prime Minister’s den, TEN DOWNING STREET for a cocktail party! And, not only that, but I also met him and talked to him. He somehow seemed to know all about me and we talked about my aspirations for the future and about the various languages I speak and those I am learning. I must admit though that during the course of our conversation, I had to disagree with him on one point and told him so. When he said to me, ‘surely Japanese is more difficult than Chinese’, I had to correct him and inform him that it was the other way round due to the tones in Chinese. Anyway, to cut a long story short, he was  very approachable and pleasant to talk to.  I also met many other celebrities, including Tana and Gordon Ramsay, the British pop couple Rochelle Wiseman and Marvin Humes, Lorraine Pascale, Melvin Odoom and the boys’ pop music group JLS. As for the latter, when I was asked if I wanted to meet the boys from JLs, I had to turn down the offer as I’m afraid I don’t do pop music at all and I was concerned classical music might not have been their cup of tea. I wanted to spare all of us any embarassment. AS for Gordon Ramsay, we had a nice chat, half in English and half in French as he spoke reasonable French and he was dead keen to try it on me !  The highlight of the evening and the cutest thing of all, in my opinion, was that we saw David Cameron’s children. They had just come out of their baths, their hair was wet, and they were wearing their pyjamas, which, I hasten to add, were NOT made of silk. As for the food, caviar and other strange delicacies, these are not my favourite nibbles and I ended up eating only two chocolate strawberries  during the course of the evening.

All in all, it was a very interesting, exciting but exhausting evening.

All in all, it was a very exciting night.

The trip was also pick up by the Cambridge Evening News, click on the link below:

http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Cambridge/Alexia-11-corrects-PM-on-visit-to-No-10-30052012.htm

The Educator – Article

Here is a little article Alexia did for the “The Educator”, which is an International Magazine for Blind People

 

MY LIFE IN DOTS

My name is Alexia Sloane. I live in Cambridge with my parents who are both teachers and my sister. I am a Braille user, and in this article I will be writing about Braille, what it does for me, and how long I have known it. I started learning Braille when I was four at nursery school in France, and, after a year and a half, I was reading and writing almost fluently. I am now eleven, so I’ve known it for seven years. I was taught Braille through memory, because I had to remember the combinations of keys for all the letters.

I use Braille for a range of different things: firstly, reading, (I can’t survive without books!) Secondly, writing, (I LOVE doing this.) Thirdly, music.  (I play the recorder and the piano, so I need to be able to sight read.) Without Braille, I couldn’t do any of these things.

I have a Braille Apex, (a talking Braille computer) which I use for almost every subject, as well as for leisure.  For example: In English, the Apex is what I use to write on.  In maths, I use the Apex’s calculator.  In Science, I also write on the Apex.  In languages, I can make the Apex write and speak in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian.  Moving on to leisure, the Apex has internet and email on it, so I can keep in touch with pen-friends and the like.

If I had to choose some things I love about Braille, they would be: It enables me to read, one of my greatest passions.  It allows me to write, which I have always loved doing.  It makes it possible for me to read and write music and, because I play the recorder and piano, as well as singing in a church choir, this is very important for me.  Also, with the help of Braille maps, I can find my way round places, e.g. school, reasonably easily, which, with a bit of practice, means I won’t get lost when I have to go somewhere alone.  Finally, it’s like having a secret code that only I can understand.  (I that is, and a few friends.) Sighted people think Braille’s just a jumble of incomprehensible dots, but it’s worth a hundred of their little shapes they call letters.

If I had to choose a few things I would like to change about Braille, they would be: firstly, the people who delete all the Braille contractions without asking.  This is very distressing not only for me and all the other blind people of the nation, but also for the teaching assistants and other helpers who have just mastered the contractions people are deleting. Secondly, Braille books in England are extremely bulky. And thirdly, if we are not very careful with Braille, the dots get squashed.

In the future, I would like to become an interpreter in Brussels at the EU.  Braille will help me by giving me definitions to words from my computer’s many dictionaries, and by helping me research things for conferences on the internet.

As a conclusion, here is an extract from my Onkyo winning essay from 2010:

The dots I feel are so perfect,
They feel like tiny jewels,
If braille did not exist,
I know I would always fail.
Every dot is like a seed,
The seed of life on which I feed.

Braille is my friend,
Braille is my guide,
So listen to what’s coming next,
Praise the man whose great mind did not rest,
Until my friend,
My best source of fun,
Emerged from his imagination.

How proud I feel,
To be part French,
And share with the King of Braille,
The nationality which carries me,
On a fine golden sail,
of reading, writing and music,
To Louis Braille all hail !

Alexia Sloane 2011

The Lyrics of Music

This is this years entrance to the Onkyo Braille Essay writing competition, for which she won last year with her acrostic  poem Braille, see above.  She is one of the 5 UK finalists this year.

The Lyrics Of Music

Music is the light that guides many people on the journey of life, blind people in particular, because hearing is one of our greatest assets.  Braille music is the medium we use to interpret the language of music.

Here is a poem for each letter of the musical alphabet:

A for Arpeggios and Allegro

My fingers jump from note to note

On the magical dancing dots

Along the path to music

And they dance lightly on the instruments

Following the trail of Braille music.

B for Beat and Bravura

My heartbeat boldly works by music,

Which is the essence of my life

Music would definitely be a treat

In the afterlife of any God’s chosen wife.

C for Crescendo and Chorus

When I hadn’t yet been introduced to Braille music

Which is now the centre of my life,

I didn’t have a life.

But now that I have I can proclaim

That my existence is not blooming in vain.

D for Diminuendo and Dolcissimo

When my life began,

It was an invincible gang,

Which roared and soared around me,

And now that that feeling is lessening

Braille music puts me gently into a deep musical sleep.

E for Echo and Ensemble

The notes of happiness flow through my veins,

They echo gently like musical rain

They echo through my brain

And fill me with joy

Oh, there’s nothing like Braille music to be my favourite toy!

F for Fortissimo and Finale

Oh, what a forte resonance!

The orchestras of life

And the choirs of England and France

Are playing and singing their stance as if in a trance

And Fortissimo is their brand new law.

G for Gavotte and Grazioso

I dance a lively gavotte

I’m not sure if I’ll ever stop!

But although I am moving like a bop

Braille music will always help my balance,

And wherever I am, in England or in France

It will definitely enhance my prance.

Even if for sighted people Braille can be described as “that incomprehensible load of dots”, our magical alphabet has real meaning in every subject we study.  Whether it’s mathematics, languages, science, art or music, Braille is always our guide.  Without it, we could not partake in any aspects of life, educational, social, artistic and the like.

Written by Alexia Sloane, 10 years old, ½ English, ¼ French and ¼ Spanish.

Here is the complete Insight Radio Interview, split into 5 parts.

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Part 3

 

Part 4

 

Part 5

Pictures of Alexia interpreting in Brussels on 12th April 2011

A picture of me with my parents, MEP Robert Sturdy in the prestigious protocol room on the day of my interpreting experience in the European Parliament on 12th April 2011

A picture of me with Anthony Teasdale Deputy Head of Cabinet of the President of the European Parliament, receiving a medal following my interpreting experience at the European Parliament in Brussels on 12th April 2011

A picture or me in in the prestigious Protocol room in the European Parliament in Brussels which had been booked for my own use during my interpreting day on 12th April 2011

A picture of me interpreting in Brussels on 12th April 2011 during a full environment committee with my Alison Graves, Head of training for Interpreting

This is an Interview Alexia did with Insight Radio about her recent trip to Brussels.

The sea mirrors me,
Said the sea of tranquillity.
It could almost flow through space,
And merge with the moon and stars,
But what it could merge with best,
Is the mystery of the stars.

Oh the sea,
It’s so blue,
It is the most beautiful place,
Made just for me and you.

I wish I could embrace space.
It’s so amazingly quiet,
Except for the sound of meteorites as they crash around the tail,
Of planet Earth and many more,
Once or twice,
Hitting our floor.

The waves tinkle gently across the shore,
Soothing babies and adults alike,
And their friend,
La playa del or.
She sweeps us into her great world,
The world of water,
Has just unfurled.

Space is full of moons and stars,
And other things,
Maybe unseen by us.
The never ending blackness of space,
Has sucked me into its embrace.

The smell of the waves enchants me,
It’s so salty good,
If we were allowed to go and live in it,
Well I don’t know about you,
But I certainly would.

Space has a texture,
Although unknown,
I know it from somewhere,
I know it because it’s my home.
It feels like bits of dust and rock,
Only pleasanter,
And much more like an ice burg.

The taste of the sea is so salty,
It’s saltier than it’s smell,
But I still like it,
As the sea sweeps around her throne.

Oh the taste of space,
It’s got a sense that’s so dangerous,
But more than anything else,
It’s mysterious.
It tastes of great emptiness,
And ringing bell-like silence.

Oh the sea is so smooth,
Oh and so inspiring,
It glides through my fingers and stays there forever,
And I am happy ever after.

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