Behind the Scenes at Inclusion

Janae Gray
“Standing Strong,” read here.

For dsm contributor Janae Gray, photographing the story on the I Am Enough program “hit especially close to my heart.” Renee Hardman, the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa and the person who initiated the program, not only “has been a pillar of providing representation as [a leader] of my community, but she continues to exemplify what change can look like when we work together and support one another,” Janae says. 

Janae, a Big Sister mentor herself, attended one of the I Am Enough sessions for the photo shoot. “Hearing the bravery and vulnerability that the girls shared was moving,” she says. “You could see and feel the shift in mindset happen throughout the whole session.”

She adds that she also “thought it was important to highlight the joy, curiosity and excitement that fueled the room. … Youths are our future, and these girls are going to change the world someday.”

Hannah Soyer
Afghan Resettlement, read here.

As a writer for dsm and Inclusion, Hannah Soyer loves learning about issues that affect the local community and then sharing them with readers. From the time on her high school newspaper staff to her work as a journalism student at the University of Iowa, Hannah has been drawn to writing because of “the ability words give us to shine light on that which needs to be known,” she says. 

That includes the situation of Afghan refugees resettling in Iowa. “Unless you have experienced resettlement yourself or have someone close to you who has been through this process, the act of remaking a home in a foreign country, all within 90 days, is one unfamiliar to many,” she says. 

Hannah’s other writing work ( focuses on “representations of othered bodies, and how the arts—in particular, storytelling—can be beautiful acts of survival, resistance and community building.” She is the founder of This Body is Worthy, a project aimed at celebrating bodies outside of mainstream societal ideals, and Words of Reclamation, a space for disabled writers. She also freelances for the World Institute on Disability and offers writing coach and grant writing services. 

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