400 Life: New Year. New You. January 2021

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400 LIFE January 2021


New salon all about color, vibe Fountain’s Food Adventures on quest for local flavor

Drone operator shares passion with others

Also: Beat the winter blues with tips from local expert | One girl’s goal to educate about Type 2 diabetes | Curl up with one of these books on self-examination, decision-making

Thank you for voting us BEST PEDIATRICS in Forsyth 770-888-8888 Monday - Friday | 8am - 5pm 1800 Northside Forsyth Drive | Suite 460 Cumming, GA 30041


2 | 400 LIFE | January 2021

contents from the editor

As we move into a new year, it’s important to keep a positive outlook and take care of ourselves — now more than ever. Winter months can be gloomy and down right depressing at times. Start 2021 with a fresh new look at a new salon in downtown Cumming that has just the vibe needed to escape the cold, gray days ahead. Walking into Salon AF & Beauty Co. will brighten your day, with a virbant color scheme and a cheerful — and even more talented — staff. Try a new hair color from one of the color specialists, or get a facial from a licensed esthetician, a clean shave from a master barber, or new lashes from a professional. Follow David Fountain and Fountain’s Food Adventures on his journey to explore the flavors of local restaurants while supporting those same businesses that took a hit in 2020. Learn a new hobby like Jack Jeffery, a drone operator who created a community earlier this year to share ideas and help people who may want to learn how to fly. Read a book about how to examine how you make decisions and expand your thinking. And know there are experts that can help guide you with tips on coping with winter blues, like the one 400 Life talked to for this issue. Whatever path you take in 2021, we wish you the best and hope all our readers have a safe and happy new year! — Tracie Pike

4 IT’S ALL ABOUT VIBE: ‘We want clients to feel that energy’ Try a new look for in 2021 at Salon AF & Beauty Co. in downtown Cumming, where the setting is as vibrant as the styles.

10 Fountain’s Food Adventures ready to hit the road again David Fountain and Fountain’s Food Adventures is kicking off his fun food journey again this year might in an effort to help local restaurants gain some traction while simultaneously giving people something to look forward to after being at home for so long.

contributors Publisher Stephanie Woody Managing Editor Tracie Pike Staff writers Sabrina Kerns Kelly Whitmire Ashlyn Yule Special contributors Becky Cahill Jennifer Colosimo

Director of Revenue Leah Nelson Advertising Tim Anderson Stacy Clark This magazine is a product of the www.ForsythNews.com Sign up for daily newsletters at ForsythNews.com Cover photo by Jack Jeffery

8 Jack Jeffery has spent 15 years learning to fly drones. Earlier this year, he created a Facebook page so others could meet and share tips.

15 South Forsyth High School senior Anjali Joshi pens book to help children learn about — and possibly prevent — Type 2 diabetes.

12 Local expert shares tips on how to beat the winter blues. 14 400 Reads: Reflect on your thoughts, decisions in the new year. January 2021 | 400 LIFE | 3

Put Down New Roots

Local salon makes life more colorful in 2021 Story by Jennifer Colosimo Photos Rita West Photography and Jaime Pryor

The grayest of wintry January days in Forsyth County might make Miami-native April Fern Richards a little nostalgic for her home state (makes some of us wistful, too), but one step inside her bright and vibrant salon in downtown Cumming establishes why she loves calling this place home. And it’s anything but gray.


‘Something about that particular building — that little white house with the teal door — was just so cute.’


self-dubbed “beauty school dropout” in 2000, she completed a dual license in Florida and Georgia (and made the dean’s list) in 2017. “I’m so glad to be in this industry. It allows for so much creativity and fluctuation with my schedule,” says Richards, owner of Salon AF & Beauty Co. “I love that everything is always changing and evolving with hair trends, but I also love being able to take family time when I need it.” The two ideas have always been intertwined for Richards, who nods to the environment her own mom created for her and her sisters growing up. “I’ve been a creative person ever since I was little,” she says. “Being from a family of artists, I grew up with the tendency to see things in color. I have a knack for putting certain colors together that most people wouldn’t. I love being able to transform the way a person looks, whether it’s with hair color, special occasion make up or lash extensions. Seeing their face light up upon their first look at themselves is priceless! That’s when you know you’ve done your job.” One place she wanted to accomplish that was in a new salon in downtown Cumming. She needed a bigger space and had her eye on one particular piece of real estate: a cozy white cottage on Pirkle Ferry Road. “Something about that particular building — that little white house with the teal door — was just so cute,” says Richards. “I couldn’t afford it when I first inquired about

it. Fast-forward two years, and it just kind of fell into my lap. It was a sign, I thought. I’m just going to do it! I’m not going to let COVID scare me! I had gotten so busy in such a short amount of time, and I was having to turn new clients away. I don’t want to do that! I want to keep them under my roof. So we went for it.” The salon opened in its new location in early October of 2020 and Richards put her mark on downtown Cumming immediately — both on the house itself and on her clients, including the “F” for Fern, nodding to a family name packed with sentiment. “Forsyth County has been very welcoming to me personally and as a business owner,” says Richards. “It is a central location for our clients that travel to us from

Dawsonville, Dahlonega, Gainesville, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Marietta, Ball Ground, Atlanta, and even a few from Florida! We have a lot of locals as well, including several new clients who say they simply drove by, loved our sign and reached out to us on Facebook.” That sign is only a hint of what’s on the inside. When the style trend was leaning toward whites and country rustic, Richards stuck with what she knew — color. And with a house that boasts a bright blue front door, the rest was easy, including a team of professionals who could match the space with equally vibrant personalities. “That’s our goal,” says Richards. “We’re CONTINUED, PAGE 6 January 2021 | 400 LIFE | 5


I love being able to transform the way a person looks, whether it’s with hair color, special occasion make up or lash extensions. Seeing their face light up upon their first look at themselves is priceless! - April Fern Richards, owner of Salon AF & Beauty Co.

April Fern Richards

Salon owner, master cosmetologist, color specialist and certified lash artist @aprilfern_salonaf

Jessica Stamey

Master cosmetologist, master barber, certified color specialist, professional hair stylist Instagram: @jessicastameyhairdesigns

Katy Pelt

Beauty, cosmetic, personal care, certified lash artist Instagram: @katy.salonaf

Erica Couch

Health/beauty specialist Instagram: @erica.salonaf

Amber Gossett

Licensed esthestician Instagram: @amber.salonaf 6 | 400 LIFE | January 2021

professionals, first, but our team has a lot of fun with each other, and that translates directly to our client’s experience. We like to laugh, we’re edgy, yet we’re down to earth. We all definitely have the gift of gab. It makes our customers feel welcome and they have a good time while they’re here.” And they’re here for a lot more than refreshing your roots. “My clientele trusts me to guide them on finding the best color that suits their complexion, face shape and fits their personality,” says Richards. “Many of them sit in my chair and say, ‘You got this, do whatever you want.’ I love that! I have several clients that have gone from natural colors to vivid colors, back to natural colors, [and more]! I’ve taken them through every single step. I enjoy seeing them transform through all of those phases in life.” Aside from expert haircuts and color, Salon AF provides a full menu of facials and skin care services, full-body waxing, lash extensions, barber services, and special occasion hair and makeup. That’s good information to know as we emerge from our 2020 cocoons. Richards is the first one to raise a hand to resetting this year. “How much do we want just to move forward this year and forget about what happened in 2020?” she says. “I don’t really know how to do that, but I think you can start with a reset in how you take care of yourself — a little pampering, really. That goes a long way in getting our beauty routines back on track.” Richards loves the new balayage hair color trend, where clients get a hand painted approach to that bright, sun-kissed hair color. It’s a natural look, with softer,

more natural, lived-in color that’s super easy to maintain and can last for up to 10 weeks or more. The salon’s resident aesthetician suggests starting with a Basic Facial where she can analyze and pamper your skin, and recommend a plan of action to reset and renew your skin’s natural glow moving forward into the year. Even men can clean things up with a hot towel treatment and straight razor shave from the in-house barber. Talking about those ideas with clients is one of this team’s favorite things to do. And 5-star reviews prove they’re good at bringing them to life — a predictable outcome when you’ve got professionals living out their passions with expert skillsets. “Vibe is the word we like to use,” says Richards. “It means so much to me. We want clients to feel that energy when they’re here, and we want it to be a really good time. I’m partial to the decor of the salon, but that’s not what makes this salon my favorite place — my girls are. This team has all been handpicked to carry on the vibe of the salon. They bring strong skills and creativity to Salon AF; however, their dedication to growing this amazing little treasure with me has been so gratifying. I truly love how close we all are. Not only do we engage with each other as family, but we are all just as friendly with our clients and each other’s clients. No one is a stranger at our salon.” Here’s to hoping 2021 has that same energy… and a new look. — Sponsored content

Salon AF & Beauty Co. is at 114 Pirkle Ferry Road, Cumming, GA 30040 Contact: (470) 253-8242 | Facebook: Salon AF & Beauty Co. | Instagram: @salonaf_and_beautyco

Members of Georgia Drone Pilots recently met at Central Park in Forsyth County.

Soaring to new heights How the Georgia Drone Pilots group is taking off

Story and photos by Kelly Whitmire


hether it’s Sawnee Mountain, Lake Lanier, the sights of Atlanta or even just some friends enjoying a campfire, Jack Jeffery gets camera shots that would usually be impossible. For the last 15 years or so, Jeffery has been learning to fly drones, using them for his business and, earlier this year, began an online group, Georgia Drone Pilots, as a place where drone operators and those interested in getting into the hobby can plan meetups, trade tips and generally communicate with each other. “There’s pilots from all walks of life coming together,” Jeffery said, “and I think that’s what’s so great is that they come out and we share the same interests, flying these drones, for different reasons, whether it’s photography or cinematography or … mapping or jobs or as an amateur, as a hobby, and it’s 8 | 400 LIFE | January 2021

really bonded us together and formed these friendships.” Jeffery said the group has grown fast and already has more than 1,000 members with some members in Forsyth County and the surrounding area, others coming from places like Macon or Savannah and even some members coming from surrounding states like North Carolina or Florida just to attend the meetings. “It’s really amazing that people are coming from such distances to come and join us for the meet-up,” he said. Along with the members coming from different areas, they also come with varying levels of experience, from experienced flyers to those who are just getting interested in the hobby. “We’ve got people that come to the group that don’t even have a drone yet, and they’re asking us what drone [to get], then by the next meet-up they’ve got a drone, then the next meet-up they’re posting photos, then videos, then all of a sudden I’m like, ‘Wow, look at the progress,” Jeffery said. “The technology is just so amazing how far [it’s come.] For me, watching it from 2005 until now, these kids are learning faster. If I were growing up and I were 16 again, this would definitely be something that would turn my head and interest me in this industry because it’s only getting bigger.” While there are many differences in the individual members of the group, there are some similarities. At a recent meetup at Central Park off Keith Bridge Road, many of the members could be seen flying very similar types of drones compared to the varieties of styles that would be present at other hobby groups, like those for cars or guitars. Jeffery said most of the drones are DJI Mavic Air 2s and Mavic Pro 2s, which he called “top of the line” due to their interface and technology and said the lighter weight meant they did not have to be registered with the FAA. “The reason why is DJI really has a grip on the industry; they’re kind of like the Apple of the industry. I think it’s like 80% sold are from DJI right now,” Jeffery said. Near the end of the meet-up, Jeffery broke out a larger DJI drone, the Inspire 2, a commercial film drone with interchangeable lenses that “give you that nice depth on it.” “This is going to be used on more high-end jobs,” he said. “Usually, you have one to two

pilots on this, you can do two controls.” Jeffery said along with being a hobby, he also relies on drones for his professional roles as a Realtor and producer. “I got involved with it because I wanted to add that aerial shot to my video clips and maybe an opening scene to the story-telling,” Jeffery said. Along the way, Jeffery said he made connections and learned more about flying drones and was able to incorporate those lessons into projects. “I love doing it,” he said. “I’m a storyteller and I’m passionate about it. This is what drives me. Chasing the story, making that creative content, that’s what makes me feel alive.” During the Central Park meet-up park rangers approached the pilots as they flew drones to make sure they were doing so within guidelines. Luckily, one of the rangers had his own drone and was able to talk shop with some of the members while advising them of local rules. Jeffery said since drones are a fairly new hobby, he and the other members of the group were often answering questions others might have. “They don’t want us flying over the soccer games, which we shouldn’t be anyway, but they should be checking and making sure nothing is wrong,” he said. “This is an aircraft we’re putting in the air ... and we need to be safe. People need to know, before they go out … and get one, what they’re getting into.” As drones become more popular and people find new ways to use them for work, as a hobby or even as a sport — a new sports drone used for racing tops 100 mph — Jeffery said “the drone industry is in an exciting time right now,” and recommended anyone who is interested in flying drones to get involved as the hobby takes off. “I would get my hands on one. I would start learning about [the certifications for flying certain drones]. I think the rules are changing, so you’re going to have to take a test anyway, but you should have the knowledge because you are putting an aircraft in the air,” Jeffery said. “Safety is number one at the end of the day.” January 2021 | 400 LIFE | 9

The Food Fountain overfloweth (again)

Local food fan returns to boast the bests Story by Jennifer Colosimo


emember when we met David Fountain? In 2019, the owner of Financial Consultants Group became our favorite kind of hero, because his method for training for a marathon made us all want to be runners … or at least his training buddies. With a lot of miles to cover, a carb-loading quest set him out on an adventure to find the best pizza in Forsyth County. Thanks to his tireless taste buds, we now have a vetted list of palatable pies around town, from deep-dish Chicago style to traditional Italian and surprisingly delicious creative concoctions not even on the menu (see: The Turkish Boat from Mia Ristorante Italiano). He’s at it again; this year covering a lot of ground to deliver several bests that our culinary-gifted community serves. Better get hungry. “You certainly don’t need much of a reason to get excited about eating good food!” says Fountain. “I love to uncover the best restaurants, and with the growth in our area there are so many new places to checkout. Food creates an excitement with great flavors and those you shared the experience with. The year 2020 has been tough for so many and we believe that food can be the reason for people to order-out or dine-in and be with family and friends — for conversation and creating memories, and even new traditions.” Fountain’s Food Adventures may not have a marathon to justify bites this year, but his motivation is just as important. Especially with the hit COVID delivered early last year to the restaurant industry, he’s hopeful that kicking off his fun food journey again this year might help local restaurants gain some traction while simultaneously giving people something to look forward to after being at home for so long. People gotta eat! “The number one goal is to uncover those gems that seem to be scattered throughout our area,” he says. “Secondly is bringing good information to our readers to help create more business for the restaurants. Lastly is having fun, eating good food and meeting lots of great people. That area spans Forsyth, Dawson and Hall counties — three neighborhoods that Fountain loves. “Forsyth has been home for almost 15 years now and I have loved the family neighborhoods and caring community,” says Fountain. “It’s organizations like Browns Bridge Church, The Place of Forsyth and our school system that have helped to make our county so special — and continues to attract good people to move here from all over. “Gainesville provides that hometown feel from the locals with its charming downtown — not to mention being the chicken capi-

David Fountain and Fountain’s Food Adventures is kicking off his fun food journey again this year might in an effort to help local restaurants gain some traction while simultaneously giving people something to look forward to after being at home for so long.

tal of the world is enough on its own,” he adds. “And Dawsonville, outside of the busy 400 corridor, is another locals’ community that is made up of good southern charm and a vibrant community.” Any vibrant community includes buzzing potential for creative culinary ventures — too many for one list — and these areas are exploding with talent, creativity, and unique flavors. Fountain kicks off the year with a search for the best brunch, and his tongue-tantalizing trip will continue from there. “COVID does create some uncertainty and concerns, but we will be mindful of safety as we do our tasting and restaurant reviews, so when our readers are comfortable in venturing out, they will have a lot of great restaurants to visit.” Of course, if you remember the way Fountain described Pizza Azzurri’s Dynamite Buffalo Chicken Napoleon in 2019, then you might just get inspired to try his nods to-go. That’s all Fountain could ask for — something that brings people together, no matter how differently they do it. “I love to see passion put into the quality of the ingredients and the results [that present themselves through] presentation and, most of all, the taste,” says Fountain. “This adventure has been a fun and rewarding obsession. The neatest thing is that food is a common language that everyone seems to speak. Like pizza, for example, who doesn’t love pizza??” He’s definitely speaking our language, and we can’t wait to start talking. — Sponsored content

Follow the adventure at Fountain’s Food Adventures on Facebook and Instagram 10 | 400 LIFE | January 2021


Psychologist shares advice on coping with winter blues Story by Sabrina Kerns

When the pandemic first started to take hold in the country in March, many leaned on nature for help through an unpredictable situation. Families had socially-distanced visits with each other in their front yards, couples started to have small, backyard weddings, residents walked around their neighborhoods and local restaurants offered outdoor seating. Spending more time outside with loved ones quickly became part of the new normal. As it has started to get colder, however, nature has fallen into its usual gloomy season. Winter can be a challenging time for many, with or without a pandemic, whether it is because of something more serious such as seasonal affective disorder or simply from a feeling of being cooped up indoors. 400 Life spoke with Dr. Brad Hieger, a licensed psychologist and the Clinical Services Director at Focus Forward Counseling and Consulting, about how to continue with the new normal and climb out of those gloomy moments this winter.

Live in the moment Thinking about how individuals can lead a healthier lifestyle this winter, Hieger said he has grown concerned about how many are looking ahead for happiness. Especially with headlines about the COVID-19 vaccine being released, Hieger said the country, and many across the world, are in this waiting and watching period, hoping to see change as soon as they can. “While it’s incredibly encouraging and gives people something to look forward to, looking ahead can also exacerbate present distress because one of the reasons why we get unhappy is we notice a gap between what is and what we would like it to be,” Hieger said. “And the bigger that gap is, the more distress we often feel.” He said he has noticed more individuals during the pandemic falling into this mindset that they have to wait for something to happen for them to feel happy again — whether that is for the pandemic to be over, schools and offices to be fully open again or for a chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Hieger said focusing on the future can often keep people from finding moments that make them feel happy in the present or from finding ways to “move in a meaningful direction.” To help, he recommended taking part in mindfulness exercises to try to shift attention more to the moment. 12 | 400 LIFE | January 2021

Prioritize social needs If there is one aspect of the pandemic everyone can agree has been one of the hardest to get through, it’s the distance from friends and family. Although it has been more difficult to come together, especially as winter has come and limited outdoor activities, Hieger said it is important to always keep up that social support and connectedness. Even if it means having to get creative and connect online, through social media or applications like Zoom or Skype, having others to joke around with, spend Friday night dinners together and just have fun with is “paramount.” “The social support is often the bedrock of everybody’s emotional health, and it has to be prioritized,” Hieger said.

Take care of the basics

Coming out of all of the stress from 2020, it can be easy to forget about focusing on simple things like getting enough sleep, managing anxiety and exercising regularly — activities that promote wellness and can lead to both a healthier body and mind. “It does produce this vicious cycle of, ‘Because I’m stressed now, I don’t have the energy or motivation to do this, so I’ll wait for that feeling to pass,’” Hieger said. “But sometimes when we wait, it perpetuates and it doesn’t pass.” He said tasks can become more strenuous and time consuming when individuals are dealing with negative feelings or thoughts. “And so self-care does have to be prioritized, and when it’s moved to the top of the list, it helps people through some of that stress,” Hieger said.

Look for small moments It’s important to find those moments that bring joy, especially during a crisis. It might seem harder to find those moments through chaos and uncertainty. Hieger said it’s important to pay closer attention to the small moments, finding happiness in the mundane “instead of looking for big wins.” He said his clients have found mood trackers and journals to be helpful in keeping track of feelings. Gratitude journals specifically force individuals to look for small moments of happiness. “And when you look for them, you usually start finding them,” Hieger said. “It’s not unusual that people in a low mood will self-access and CONTINUED, PAGE 14

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400 reads

We spend a tremendous amount of our time thinking and making small and large decisions. However, how often do you think about thinking? The start of a new year is an excellent time to examine ourselves and reflect on the thoughts we have and how we ultimately make our decisions. The recommendations this month provide an option for self-examination based on your personality and reading style. with

If you enjoy gently dipping your toe into new topics, then Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel will be a great choice. Bogel is the voice behind the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club and the What Should I Read Next Podcast. She is one of my most trusted sources for book recommendations, so when she writes a book, I am the first one on the waitlist. Don’t Overthink It is Bogel’s third book and she uses personal life experiences to identify faulty thought patterns that can negatively impact our lives. Each chapter walks the reader through healthier choices and includes next steps to focus your reading experience.

If you would want to know the science behind the writing, then Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald is for you. Banaji and Greenwald are both professors with impressive credentials and experience. They approach the idea of unconscious bias from a non-threatening and relatable point of view. Using the groundbreaking research tool that Greenwald helped to develop, an Implicit Association Test (IAT), the authors reveal thinking that occurs below the surface of our consciousness. These internalized thought patterns can operate in direct contradiction to our explicitly held beliefs. Blind Spot does not take a political stance or accusatory tone, but rather reveals research-based findings that can provide us a chance for reflection.

Becky Cahill

If you enjoy documentaries or books that incorporate real-life events, then you should check out Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell is not a new name to non-fiction readers as he has written five New York Times bestsellers. Each of his previous books take complicated sociological and psychological terms and make them relatable. Talking to Strangers is no exception to this pattern. In the book, Gladwell introduces some thought-provoking and seemly counterintuitive elements within human decisionmaking. Gladwell uses examples from the 20th and 21st centuries to support his writing. If you enjoy audiobooks, the author added even more events when he created the recording. Becky Cahill is a career educator and an avid reader. She reads extensively in her free time and you can follow along on Instagram at beckycahill25.


say, ‘Well, things have stunk and they continue to stink,’ because that’s the overarching mood state,” Hieger said. “But then when they have some numbers to back it up, they might realize, [they have] 30% fewer symptoms than ... three weeks ago. Things are getting better.”

Seeking extra help Even after following online advice and taking moments away from the stress, sometimes reaching out for additional support from a therapist or psychologist can be helpful, especially when struggling to get over a mental hurdle. “We are seeing people reach out for therapy after they’ve delayed it for other reasons, and hopefully some degree of competent, professional help can help people bridge that gap and get through the difficult [winter] season,” Hieger said. Psychology Today includes a tool on its website that allows users to type in their city or zip code and find therapists and treatment centers in their communities. During a mental health emergency, individuals can call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225 or, if they feel more comfortable texting with a counselor rather than calling on the phone, they can text ‘Home’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities also has a Georgia COVID-19 Emotional Support Line for those struggling with loneliness and stress as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Residents can reach that line at 866-3998938. 14 | 400 LIFE | January 2021


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Learning About You

Student writes children’s book to raise awareness of childhood diabetes Story by Ashlyn Yule | Photos courtesy Anjali Joshi


outh Forsyth High School senior Anjali Joshi has always had a passion for both the arts and sciences. When she was a little girl, Anjali’s grandparents were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. So she began to research the disease to understand the symptoms and treatment. What she discovered led her to combine the creativity of writing with her medical knowledge from science, to create a childrens book entitled “Learning About You Preventing Type Two.” “The book was especially exciting for me because it allowed me to research a lot about health care and science and kind of dive in really deeply into that” Anjali said, “But then it also allowed me to pursue the creativity of writing a book and going through that entire process. So it was really just kind of like the best of both worlds.” Anjali began researching the disease at a young age and found a lack of information about children with the disease. She wanted to help, especially with prevention, so she started gathering information three years ago. “I found that there was a gap in the educational material available for children,” Anjali said. Passionate about the obesity crisis in America, she chose to focus on prevention for her book because she had seen the consequences of Type 2 diabetes in her grandparents. Anjali began to write the book in the middle of 2019, and found a publisher, Joshua B. Wichterich. They worked closely together going over each page carefully, making sure every detail was perfect. “It was so interesting to give [Joshua] my ideas and then collaborate with him to create an end product that we were both really proud of,” Anjali said. “It was also really special to work with an illustrator who has had Type 2 diabetes hit really close to home for him.” She came up with five basic steps for prevention and shared the first three with 400 Life, but kept the remaining two a secret so children will be able to discover the spoilers for themselves when they read her book. The three steps to preventing Type 2 diabetes in children are limiting screen time, making sure to get 60 minutes of fitness every day and visiting doctors for wellness checkups regularly. Anjali incorporated her keys to prevention in a fun, engaging way, including a whimsical story about characters based on people in her life and interactive healthy recipes that families can make at home. The main character, Anika, follows much the same journey as Anjali did as a little girl. Her grandmother has Type 2 diabetes, and Anika takes it upon herself to research the disease and learn about treatment and prevention. Anika gets up to some wacky shenanigans in the book, going so far as throwing an avocado across her classroom to convey the message of healthy eating. What makes Anika’s character particularly special to Anjali is that she is inspired by her younger sister. “As I was thinking, ‘Who in my life would [throw an avocado across the room]?’ It [made me think] that is something my sister

would do,” Anjali said. “So it was … special to me to include her in the book in that way, and it kind of just made sense to me.” Her English teacher from South Forsyth High School, Vince Reynolds, helped fuel her passion for writing and inspired her to continue with the craft. “The special thing is that the teacher in my book is actually named Mr. Reynolds,” Anjali said, “And that was inspired by him.” Anjali’s goal in writing her children’s book was not to discuss treatment of the disease, but to help children and families prevent diabetes in children as young as 9 and 10. She also hopes to spread awareness about the obesity crisis in America and encourage families to take steps to prevent early-onset diabetes. The response Anjali has received from the community has been overwhelming, she said. Because of her book, she has been able to reconnect with old acquaintances, including her elementary school principal who shared her book at school. “Something really special has also been hearing back from children and families that have read it and hearing them say that reading the book has actually helped them enact a lifestyle change,” Anjali said. “When you hear that firsthand from families and children, that’s really something special. Next steps for Anjali include researching her next topic for her Learning About You series: healthy bones. She hopes to continue the series by touching on different conditions and diseases for children aged 2 to 12. Anjali also hopes to pursue a career in the medical field where she can further her knowledge of diseases and conditions to continue to spread understanding and awareness about prevention for years to come. Anjali’s book “Learning About You Preventing Type Two” is available for purchase on Amazon. January 2021 | 400 LIFE | 15




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