A York County creative mind shows how writing can be used to uplift others.
By Catherine Amoriello
At Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA), we encourage girls to pursue their passions, whatever they may be. While Girl Scouts focuses a lot on outdoors, life skills, entrepreneurship and STEM, creativity and the arts go hand in hand with these programming tracks. Demonstrating the success that can be found in creative arts, as well as the impact creative skills can have on the community, is Phyl Campbell, a York County-based author, editor and publisher.
Campbell owns her own publishing company, Phyl Campbell Press, and serves as chair of the Splash! Book Carnival event. The carnival provides local authors opportunity to share aquatic-themed works with proceeds benefitting Autism at Face Value (AFV), a comic book publishing company that promotes neurodiversity acceptance by using comic books to demystify Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Looking to provide a more engaging vendor event for authors, Campbell teamed up with AFV co-founders Angela and Dave Kot to bring the carnival to life.
“We already had authors who were local [and] ‘othered,’ whether by autism or something else, and were writing with aquatic themes. And we knew we had artists with talents to share. All we had to do was provide an event where they could all shine,” Campbell said.
AFV’s mission hits close to home for Campbell as she herself has autism. After navigating her own self-development, she hopes through her work she can help others, regardless of if they have a disability or not.
“I used to worry that when people knew I was autistic, they would use it against me. Angela especially has helped me affirm and embrace my autism, and use my autism and need to self-advocate as a way to help advocate for all. Even people that aren’t autistic often need some form of accommodation,” Campbell said.
While Splash! Book Carnival had been Campbell’s brainchild for years, she recognizes the event would not have come to fruition without the support of others. She said after sharing her vision with the Kots, they didn’t hesitate to join her and back her idea. This partnership, in addition to others involved with AFV, has provided Campbell a support system that makes following her passion that much more enjoyable.
“Being part of AFV has given me a group of people with whom to share my ideas, hopes, frustrations and successes. It is really good to work together toward a goal [and] be doing something for others in a larger avenue of service,” Campbell said.
Following a pay it forward concept, Campbell supports aspiring authors by coaching girls and women throughout their writing process. She balances transparency with not overwhelming her mentees with too much information, saying meeting people where they are and trying to help them grow is very important.
For girls and young people who are interested in a career in writing or publishing, Campbell said it’s never too early or late to start. She said business smarts are key to successfully marketing yourself and your work, and much can be learned from self-published individuals. But her main piece of advice is applicable to anyone, no matter their interests or passions.
“Be bold and fearless in your pursuit. If you can tell a story that captures people’s attentions, you can leverage that to any aim you have. When you’re the writer, you control the narrative. That’s a very powerful position to be in.”