Puisand Lai among those featured in Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls series, 100 inspiring young changemakers

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The fifth volume of the hit Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series, 100 inspiring young changemakershighlights extraordinary young women who mark the world today.

Readers will celebrate well-known women like Greta Thunberg, Bethany Hamilton, Bindi Irwin, Zendaya and the Linda Lindas, and meet rising powerhouses like inventor Vinisha Umashankar, fashion designer Marine Serre, stunt woman Sadiqua Bynum, filmmaker Taegen Yardley, poet Alexandra Huynh and environmental activist Helena Gualinga.

The girls and women of the book come from different countries and backgrounds and have a wide range of interests and accomplishments. Barrier-breaking artist Keke Palmer has become the youngest talk show host in US history. Entrepreneur Mikaila Ulmer founded a lemonade company to help save bees. Brazilian skateboarder Rayssa Leal has turned a hobby into an Olympic dream. And British body positivity advocate Megan Jayne Crabbe and Indigenous artist Te Manaia Jennings inspire kids to keep their minds healthy.

With a foreword by environmentalist and TV personality Bindi Irwin, the book features the work of authors, artists and publishers aged 30 and under. Each story is told in the whimsical fairy tale style that made the series so popular and is paired with a bold full-page portrait. Over 80 young female or non-binary artists from around the world have contributed original artwork to the book.

In an interview with Paralympic and “Rebel Girl” Puisand Lai, with Jes Wolf, CEO of Rebel Girls, we uncover the ongoing positive power of telling the stories of young people making a difference around the world.

KEELY: What was your Paralympic journey like?

PUISAND: The truth is, I never grew up thinking, “I want to be a Paralympian one day”. Sport was just something that my parents signed me up to be more active in, but then it became something that I really enjoyed, and it became something that I had a lot of potential for. Then I worked on making Team Ontario, then Team Canada. It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of dedication, willpower and a lot of ups and downs, but in every practice I gave my best and tried to pick up as much as I could. Representing Canada at the Paralympic Games was surreal because it was the culmination of all the hard work I’ve put in over the past four plus years, and it was amazing to see it all come together in that moment.

KEELY: What advice would you give to your younger self?

PUISAND: Just take cover and stop worrying about what other people think. I think I was, and still am, afraid to take the leap to try new things because I was afraid of standing out, feeling out of place, etc. The first step is always the hardest, but taking it is all the better.

KEELY: Why is it important for young people with disabilities to see themselves represented in media, books and entertainment?

PUISAND: I think it’s important because growing up I was so embarrassed to be different. It wasn’t until I started playing wheelchair basketball and tennis that I saw more people with disabilities living their lives and thriving, instead of just seeing people in a hospital environment . So being able to see people like you succeeding in other environments not only gives you confidence, but also allows others to see more in people than their disabilities.

KEELY: The autonomy of the body is under attack, climate change is vast and human rights are under constant threat from lawmakers… That said, how do you see young women and girls taking action? And why is it so important that the Rebel Girls not only shine a light on these stories, but turn them into stories to inspire others to take action?

JES: There’s a lot to sort out in the world right now! Luckily there are so many amazing women and girls moving, shaking, mobilizing and inspiring. These are the agents of change we need; their actions and activities impact their communities and the world. It’s our job at Rebel Girls to celebrate what they’ve done, to encourage them, and to amplify their stories so that the next generation of girls can carry the torch.

We see girls all over the world using their brains, their talents, their passion, their creativity to effect change. Girls like Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate who fight to protect the earth from climate change. Girls like Bindi Irwin and Earyn McGee who dedicate their lives to helping animals. Girls like Jazz Jennings and AJ Clementine who stand up for human rights, awareness and compassion. Girls like Bonnie Chiu who created an organization to provide more income to women in developing countries, and Olga Kravchenko who uses new technologies to make learning about history and visual art engaging and accessible . These young women prove that there are many ways to be an agent of change.

Storytelling is the oldest and safest way to communicate with children – and to teach them valuable lessons and knowledge. That’s why at Rebel Girls we tell stories. We tell the stories of women and girls who are shameless themselves. Girls who have overcome obstacles, challenged the status quo, impacted the world and brought people together. Girls who are innovators and leaders, creators and champions. We tell their stories as bedtime stories so more people know about their contributions and more girls can find role models to identify with and inspire them. If we do our job well, we will have told so many diverse stories that every girl will be able to find at least one, if not dozens, of role models. And through this, they can both be inspired and feel more confident that they too can be agents of change.

KEELY: This is the fifth volume of the book, what excites you the most?

JES: While each book stands on its own, this book in particular is special because it focuses solely on contemporary women and girls – all under 30, many under 21 – who are changing the world today. . It is intended to provide girls with an amazing list of the most relevant models of all time.

Moreover, the creators of this book are all between 11 and 30 years old. We’ve worked with 96 women and girls from over 40 countries to write, edit and illustrate the illustrations in this book – it’s meant to be by girls, for girls (and about inspiring girls!).

We’ve also created amazing companion audio stories to complement this book – some story pages include QR codes that unlock a 10-20 minute audio story about the woman on the Rebel Girls app. These 10-20 minute audio stories include original sound and music and are in the format of our award-winning podcast series.

I’m very excited to share these stories with the world – and with the response we’ve seen so far from the girls – and the global community of book subjects and readers we bring together.

We were able to bring four of the book’s subjects together in London – to share their stories with the girls there and celebrate the Rebel Girls Fest, our International Day of the Girl event. The energy in the room was electric. These book subjects were more than happy to meet – to celebrate each other’s accomplishments – and to celebrate the diversity of their backgrounds and talents, and how they have used those backgrounds and talents to make their own mark in the world. .

And the girls who came to celebrate Girl Fest were inspired, curious and hungry. They loved meeting the women in real life. They asked questions, shared their own dreams and interests, and they got to see the impact and recognition that the subjects of the book received by following their passions, working hard, and being creative. And they were able to experience it together. Everyone who came felt more connected and more connected with everyone in the room.

As a brand, that’s what we live for – building that community – and helping to pass the torch from one generation to the next. From a storytelling perspective, our early books focused on “stories from the past” – giving credit to the women who laid the groundwork for so much we enjoy today. We are now focusing on the “stories of today” – the next generation of girls who have taken up the torch and are moving us forward as a society. Going forward, you’ll see the Rebel Girls help tell the “stories of tomorrow” – for Alpha Gen Girls – and we encouraged those in the room (and readers of our book everywhere) to write their own stories (literally in the background of the book, and figuratively) and sharing them with us so that we can celebrate their dreams and pursuits.

KEELY: Is there anything else you would like to add?

JES: I love the saying: “Mountains are climbed step by step.” This saying has real meaning for me both literally and figuratively.

Literally, I love climbing mountains. I get great satisfaction from reaching a peak and watching the sunrise. I cherish the feeling of looking down on the path I have just traveled and knowing that my legs and body have taken me to a new height. Climbing the mountains is difficult and tiring. The higher you go, the more it hurts. And when it’s really hard – those peaks where the journey was on ice, freezing cold, windswept and sleet, exhausted and oxygen starved, I had to tell myself to take a step, then another. To continue.

I think it’s a great metaphor for life and many of our individual and collective activities. When I think about the problems in the world (like climate change or gender and racial inequality), these problems can seem huge and daunting. And for all the girls (and humans) out there who want to be changemakers and want to know how to get started, the trick is to start, then take it one step at a time. If we focus on one step, one action, then another, little by little we will climb the mountain, we will bring about change.

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