[heading]by KATHY LOY | photos by Soul of Photography[/heading]

One of the great things about San Diego is the opportunity to live, work and play with people from all over the world. Antonio Areas is one of these fascinating people you meet and find that they have brought so many gifts to this country – and he’s just 11 years old.

Originally from Brazil, Antonio moved to Canada when he was six and came to California just two years ago. He has attended four different schools in five years and his primary language is Portuguese. The most difficult part of so many changes has been “to get used to a new school”, but the most rewarding is “to know a lot of different people and places,” explained Antonio.

DSC_0297aOf course, this world traveler doesn’t let hurdles get in his way. As a sixth-grader at Flora Vista Elementary School, Antonio was the Spelling Bee winner this year, and in fifth grade was a Student of the Month in recognition for a project he began, called Word Rocks. “We pick up rocks at beaches, write positive words on them and spread them around,” described Antonio. “The idea is to bring something positive to other people.”

When he first started the Word Rocks project, Antonio said, “Maybe someone will find the right word at the right time and feel better.” He leaves these rocks in many places around the county, and others have joined in. “Now, we have Word Rocks spread in so many different countries around the world,” said Antonio. Recently, Word Rocks have appeared in the Netherlands, Ecuador and Portugal.

“We pick up rocks at beaches, write positive words on them and spread them around. The idea is to bring something positive to other people.”

When he isn’t spreading positivity across the world, Antonio might be found in karate class. Currently a blue belt, he also volunteers weekly in an after school program helping the younger kids with their karate. Outside of karate, Antonio likes to be on the computer and to play with his dog, named Sgt. Pepper. It’s no surprise to learn that Antonio says the two people who inspire him the most are Steve Jobs and Paul McCartney, but rest assured, his parents rank up there too. “My parents are very supportive and funny. They were born in Brazil and they always talk to me about how important is to be true to myself, to my ideas and my tastes,” he said. Rock on, Antonio.

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Name: Antonio Areas Monteiro

Age: 11

School: Flora Vista Elementary School

Grade: 6

Parents: Carol & Paulo

Website: www.wordrocks.me

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