How Disney’s #DreamBigPrincess campaign is changing lives for girls

Let’s face it. Growing up, our fairytale princesses weren’t always the strongest role models. Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, they all had to wait for a prince to save them from their miserable lives. Since then, however, Disney has come a long way to develop female figures that inspire young girls to be strong and fearless.

I grew up loving Belle from Beauty and the Beast because she was smart, brave and wouldn’t settle for an average life. We also have princesses like Pocahontas and Moana who fearlessly face danger to save their people. These types of stories have such a huge impact on girls as we grow up, and I love the fact that the animations show women as being independent and courageous.

This month Disney has unveiled a global photographic campaign in support of #DreamBigPrincess celebrating inspiring stories from around the world encouraging kids everywhere to dream big.

Nineteen female photographers from fifteen countries have created a series of empowering images showcasing real-world girls and women as part of Disney’s Dream Big, Princess. This initiative, which launched in 2016, taps into this power that Disney Princess stories has to inspire kids. The photographs will be shared on social media to help raise funds for Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s program supporting adolescent girls’ leadership and empowerment.

“The idea that stories, whether real life or fictional like those of Belle or Rapunzel, can inspire kids to follow their dreams is at the heart of the #DreamBigPrincess campaign,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. “We asked some of the most accomplished female photographers to help tell the stories of inspiring women and girls from around the world—and the results are incredible.”

The lineup of photographers alone is inspiring. They include one of the first female staff photographers at National Geographic and winners of the International Picture of the Year, World Press Photo Award for Nature, Commonwealth Photographer of the Year, as well as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. Each was challenged to find and document stories with the power to inspire kids.

“The idea that stories, whether real life or fictional like those of Belle or Rapunzel, can inspire kids to follow their dreams is at the heart of the #DreamBigPrincess campaign”

With subjects including the youngest ever speaker at the UN, a gold-medal-winning Chinese Paralympian, the founder of the first female cycling team in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, a teenage author of a STEM coding book for kids, and a young surf champion from Brazil, the project aims to spotlight a diverse range of stories to connect with kids and families around the world.

The images bring the #DreamBigPrincess message to life in a multitude of ways, including highlighting women who’ve achieved success in the face of adversity, young Girl Up Teen Advisors who’ve already helped make a positive impact on the world, and girls at play who illustrate the importance of imagination in childhood.

Ami Vitale_#DBP

While the campaign wants to inspire kids with these positive images and the stories behind them, it also aims to make a tangible difference for girls who face challenges in achieving their dreams through its collaboration with Girl Up. From August 15 till October 11, 2017, Disney Worldwide Services will donate US $1 for any public post of a photo using #DreamBigPrincess, or a Like of such a post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, for a minimum donation of US $500,000 and a maximum of US $1 million.

Girl Up’s leadership program engages girls to take action and advocate for girls around the world, giving them empowering tools to help make a difference. “Girl Up envisions a world where every girl can reach her full potential and be an advocate within her community for positive change and empowerment. The #DreamBigPrincess campaign is perfectly aligned with our goals and we’re excited to partner with Disney and this incredible group of women to spotlight what it means to dream big around the world,” says Melissa Kilby, Director of Girl Up.

BAMIYAN, AFGHANISTAN: Zakia Mohammadhi, age 23, pushes her youngest sister, Honey, age 7 on her bike infant of their home which is situated on a dirt road up a hill  that can be challenging for a child. Zakia started biking when she was 5 years old. Zakia is also part of the Bamiyan ski club, and is the first Afghan woman to paraglide, doing so in Bamiyan and in Kabul.   One of the safest and most beautiful places in Afghanistan is Bamiyan, home to the Buddhas of Bamiyan (4-5th century) destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. The Bamiyan women’s cycling team was started by Zakia Mohammadhi which had only 2 girls in 2013, now it has around 12 members and is growing in popularity. It is the first official team outside of Kabul. The women did this on their own with no male support, it was girls teaching girls to ride, girls registering the team with the sports federation in Kabul, and girls organizing the first ever girls bike race in Afghanistan, and right to ride bike rides through Bamiyan with the male bike team supporting them along with the community.  Zakia organizes and coaches the team who ride daily either early morning and after school and work in the late afternoon. She also works closely with the Afghan Cycling Federation and the men’s team in Kabul. Given the safe environment in this part of the country it allows the women the freedom to ride without the security threat that is the unfortunate reality in Kabul. The girls frequently ride in the mountains around Bamiyan, it is visually stunning, a very different scene from congested Kabul where the women are worried about angry men throwing rocks at them.

Annie Griffiths, one of National Geographic’s first female staff photographers profiled eight teenage girl leaders at Girl Up’s Leadership Summit in Washington DC, to showcase their inspiring stories as part of the campaign.

“Every picture tells a story and I’m delighted to be part of an initiative that tells so many stories that are interesting and diverse. I hope that people around the world will be motivated to share their own inspiring #DreamBigPrincess images in support of Girl Up,” says Annie.

Girl Up Teen Advisor alumna Meg Schwartz, was given the chance to follow her dream of becoming a professional photographer by creating images of Girl Up celebrity Champions, including YouTube influencers Brooklyn & Bailey, actress Katherine McNamara as well as philanthropist and actress Monique Coleman. Meg’s images will be shared as part of the campaign to help raise funds for Girl Up.

Since it launched in 2016, the Dream Big, Princess series has already reached millions of kids and families, bringing together a host of inspiring moments from beloved Disney movies with the stories of real-life young role models, who have dreamed big and achieved their goals to show kids what’s possible. The photographic campaign builds on this success by spotlighting women and girls from around the world with stories that have the power to inspire others.

Visit the Disney Princess Facebook page to support the campaign.

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