Selfie of Kyanne with a huge smile and holding her children's book The Bionic Bunch.
Toronto-based author Kyanne Stennett releases new children's book showcasing superheroes with disabilities. Children with disabilities are struggling to find books that feature characters that look like them in the roles they love. The Bionic Bunch Vol. 1 Mayhem at the Toronto Fair delivers the important message of how to deal with bullies, giving understanding and empathy while shedding light on medical differences and prosthetic/orthotic interventions.
What is your favorite memory/ moment that brought you lots of joy? Laughing with my loved ones
What is something people generally don’t know about you? As a child my dream was to be a forensic scientist
Who is Kyanne? Kyanne Stennett, Toronto-based business owner and author
What gets your fired up about the disability movement? The more people see ability the less they will see disability! Education, community and empathy are the most powerful tools for an inclusive future.
What is your advocacy platform? Creating fun, diverse and inclusive children's books that showcase characters from underrepresented communities. Every child deserves to see themself in the books they read in the roles they love no matter the colour of their skin or medical differences. I want equal representation in children's literature and to empower those living with disabilities, whether visible or invisible.
What barriers or challenges do you face in this movement? I have chronic hemiplegic migraines, in simplest terms I live with chronic pain. This makes it almost impossible to predict my capabilities on a day to day basis. I cannot work full-time in any occupation, I live in a world where I am surrounded by migraine triggers and its hard to get understanding from people. Some days I don't have the ability to write, draw, connect or keep up with the demands of my company's business (new projects, social media, sales, events). My migraines impact the speed of my movement but not the direction, through the pain I still have progress.
What do you want those who do not identify with disability to know? People with disabilities are like everyone; we want to be respected, loved and have the most fulfilling life we can. A difference in function, appearance or needs does not mean less than or less worthy.
What areas are you still growing/hope to grow? Personally? Professionally? I am working on finding the balance between listening to my body and not letting my chronic illness limit me. I want to continue to give people I interact with understanding and empathy for their truth (even if it hurts me), then ask for understanding and empathy for my truth.
Who was the person/role model who inspired you to look into disability advocacy? Why/how did they inspire you? I am inspired by a collective of personal experiences and the people I've worked with, been taught by and those who love me. I needed to learn more about my disability and learn to love my body again. Once I could advocate for myself it inspired me to advocate for others. That led to joining communities and forming a network where people shared their experiences of living with disability and I could support their advocacy.
When people look at you/up to you, what do you hope they see? When people look at me I hope they see someone who is trying; trying to transcend all their limitations and negative experiences and live a life full of giving love and going after my dreams.
What are your next steps? Capes for Diversity Initiative (coming soon) is in the works as we have just published The Bionic Bunch Vol.1, the first book in an action-packed series showcasing superheroes with disabilities focused on dealing with bullies, disability awareness and practicing empathy and inclusive behaviour.
Capes for Diversity: Join our team! Every cape will help fill the gap of representing kids with disabilities in literature and make a difference in their lives. Every donation gifts superhero capes and a copies of The Bionic Bunch. Donations are gifted to children's rehab centers and hospitals.
$20 buys books that celebrate diversity and characters with medical differences
$50 buys fun diversity and inclusion sweaters and t-shirts for children and youth to raise awareness
$100 provides art supplies and toys so kids can play and get creative
$250 used to gift musical instruments for therapy and fun, self-expression
$1000 provides financial aid to families for medication and special equipment Hosting inclusive kid's play zones with activities, gifts and readings (2021)
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