Meet The Minds Behind Shirly Whirly

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By Betsy Abraham
babraham@antonnews.com

Shirly Whirly has green hair, eyes that change with her mood, and loves nature. No this isn’t the lead in the latest Nickelodeon kids’ show; it’s the spunky character born out of the imaginations of Rushmore Avenue sixth graders Katarina Zedlovich and Georgia Bevoles.

Shirly Whirly was inspired by a fictional character the girls’ art teacher, Kara Stobe had created. Stobe encouraged the girls to make their own character. They first thought up a character named Berry Melon, but then changed her hair from red to green and thus, Shirly Whirly was born.

Georgia and Katarina with their Shirly Whirly illustrations.
Georgia and Katarina with their Shirly Whirly illustrations.

“We just kept writing about her,” Bevoles says.

Shirly Whirly has a distinct personality and through the character, the girls have been able to express a lot of their own views and interests. The green-haired heroine is passionate about nature, recycling and nutrition.

“She likes to hang out with her friends and go on adventures and keep people healthy and spread the love of nature,” says Zedlovich.

“We feel nature and eating healthy is very important, so through this character we want to encourage other people to eat healthy and love nature as much as we do,” says Bevoles.

Since first drawing up the character two years ago, the girls have amassed folders full of books and comics about Shirly Whirly’s adventures in trying to promote healthy eating and taking care of the planet. Both girls draw, write and come up with ideas based on their own lives.

“Shirly Whirly helps us express ourselves. I’m healthy and I know I like nature and now I can spread it and other people can feel good about themselves,” says Zedlovich.

And Shirly Whirly’s love of health has challenged the girls to find even more creative ways to be healthy.

“When we have Shirly Whirly do healthy stuff, we always wonder if we can try it out too,” says Zedlovich, who was inspired by a Shirly Whirly idea to make tomato cupcakes with her grandma.

Shirly Whirly become a Rushmore Avenue celebrity a few weeks ago when Bevoles and Zedlovich were asked by principal Susan Folkson to ShirleyWhirley_051614Bpaint a healthy themed mural outside the school cafeteria. The girls’ mural depicts Shirly Whirly as a broccoli princess along with several of her friends talking about healthy food choices.

“We hope it encourages people to eat healthy,” says Bevoles.

Stobe says she’s proud of what her two students have accomplished through their character and says she’s seen their confidence grow with every new comic or story they create.

“Their passion for creating their own world has given them confidence and courage to share who they are,” says Stobe. “The characters are a reflection of them and gives them courage to stand out of the crowd. It’s a world for them to come alive and express their passions and figure out what excites them.”

Bevoles and Zedlovich both say they hope to one day make Shirly Whirly a household name and to make the character their future career through books and art.

“We’re hoping it will inspire others to make their own characters and have their own ideas,” says Bevoles.

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