Let’s hear from Sherry Paris about her new book You Can Make a Difference! A Creative Workbook and Journal for Young Activists. This is part 1 of a 2-part series. Please read to the end of the article for a discount code.

Tell us about yourself.

I am an author, artist, educator, and Diversity Trainer. I recently attended the Embodied Social Justice Summit and heard Dr. Sará King describe social justice as “loving awareness in action.” I wholeheartedly agree with that description.

I collaborate with others to uproot, disrupt and educate about the injustices of racism, sexism, classism, ableism, saneism, ageism, sizeism, queerphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and all forms of bias, exclusion, and mistreatment in policy, practice, and culture. I am currently working with others to embody (re)connection to ourselves, each other, and the natural world as we create art, cultures of consent, and solidarity.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was inspired to write You Can Make a Difference! through my work with a large diversity training group in which high school students lead sensitivity trainings for each other and for their middle school peers. I love collaborating with students who lead conversations and activities about subjects that matter deeply to them which are often not formally taught. I thought it would be beneficial to a wider audience to be invited to engage with these conversations, considerations, and creative activities through You Can Make a Difference!.

Who is this book for?

This book is for students, families and parents, educators, guidance counselors, mental health providers, social workers, all school personnel and administrators, medical providers, camp and athletic programs, as well as cultural and religious communities who want to help create a more equitable and inclusive version of society.

Young activists can engage in conversations with their parents, siblings, other relatives and friends about what matters most to them from You Can Make a Difference!. Grandparents can work through the book together with their grandkids. Teachers can use excerpts with their classes. Cultural and religious communities can determine a project they would like to undertake collectively. People of all ages who care about social justice can find support and empowerment in the book.

How does You Can Make a Difference! empower those who read it?

This book is all about empowerment! Here are 10 ways this book seeks to empower individuals and communities.

1. Affirming and honoring all identities and experiences, encouraging self-care and building support networks;

2. Releasing shame and stigma to free up space for self-acceptance, new perspectives, more self-love (and, of course, to pursue social justice projects);

3. Hearing from the featured interviewees about their experiences as young people who are working towards social justice and mental health who have some of these identities: Black, white, queer, transgender and non-binary, neurodivergent, disabled, and more;

4. Learning through engaging with self-reflective questions and thinking about how social systems impact people differently based on race, gender and many other factors;

5. Recognizing the power to leverage one’s privilege to create change;

6. Connecting with nature and the body;

7. Flipping the script on stories and worldviews that harm humans, nature, and the planet;

8. Visualizing the colors of the rainbow and a world in which everyone is included, valued and resourced to thrive;

9. Expressing creativity and joy through coloring affirming illustrations, dancing, drawing, writing poems and stories, and creating a “House of Liberation;” and

10. Crafting an achievable social justice project!

You Can Make a Difference! energizes readers to get their loving awareness into action. Use the discount code YCMAD10 (after selecting “checkout”) to receive 10% off your purchase (through May 31, 2022) of You Can Make a Difference! A Creative Workbook and Journal for Young Activists.

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