When Cosette was about 3 I remember being frustrated with the female heroins found in most kids books and movies. From these stories it seemed that being beautiful and a princess was the most important thing in life. I disliked how the role models in Disney were so often weak, immature and of course tiny waisted beauties, whose primary goal was to find their prince. Don’t worry, they were at least kind right? You talk to many 3 year old girls and ask them their hero, or who they want to be like and they will say Elsa or maybe Ariel. Maybe if they are a bit fringe they are into Wonder Woman, who though quite fantastic is still fictional. Can we not find real life woman for our girls to model their lives after? Can we not inspire them to aspire to be more then a wed, kind, perfect princess? I did my best to start having discussions with Cosette about woman and men who were truly heroes. I talked to her about poverty and organizations like Charity:Water that were saving lives, allowing everyday people to be heroes in their own little way. We spoke to her about Mandela and his courage and strength to lead a nation. I also spoke to her about people who might not be famous, but were still making this world better by living intentional lives.
Around that same time, my friend Alison approached me with a project proposal. She and some friends were working together to try and make a coffee table book filled with photographs of kids dressed up as inspiring humans. Portraits of influential people such as Ghandi, Rosa Parks and Malala. The goal of the book would be to inspire, but also to raise funds for a couple of local charities. They were looking for a photographer who was willing to donate their time into the making this project happen, she asked if I would be interested. I knew straight away that I wanted to be a part of it, especially with all the discussions I had been having with Cosette. This project would be such an amazing way to continue to point her to real people who inspire. Over the next two years we poured countless hours into the project to make it a reality. Leela Jacobs who dreamt up the idea, was really the one who made it all happen. She took it from an idea, brought together a team, made the book, and has continued to run with Inspire Project. Janelle Nordin sourced costumes and made outfits out of nothing. Alison Leontaridis helped with our events, planning meetings and so many odd jobs. Through out the process I knew I was being changed, as I think is the case with any heart project you pour yourself into. Seeing these beautiful hilarious kid dressed up as heroes reminded me that within each child there is a potential hero. I will forever be challenged to raise my own children to be little world changers who dream, and stand up against injustices. I will remind them that their voices matter. I am forever thankful I gave my time to this project. If you would like to purchase a book or learn more about an upcoming event in support of Dare 2 Care, a bully prevention initiative, click here. When the book came out we had an event where the kids we photographed came dressed up as their hero, and it was utterly delightful to see these kids so proud and taking such an interest in one another. They also enjoyed signing autographs. When we photographed the book Lewis was so little and was featured as John Lennon and Cosette was Frida. Although the book was completed awhile ago, we still look at it today and it has encouraged a lot of insightful conversations. I thank you for taking to the time to read about this project, and I hope in your own way you feel inspired. Here are just a few of the 50 Mini Hero’s I photographed.