Communities come in all shapes and sizes—and sometimes you discover your sense of community when you’re alone. At least that’s how it was for Taylor Nadraszky. A 16-year-old girl from Airdrie, Alberta, Taylor has spent much of her life confined indoors. Diagnosed with a rare kidney disorder when she was 11, she was forced to stay inside for six weeks following a kidney transplant from her father in 2015. Wanting to spread cheer and let other people living with chronic illness know they’re not alone—while harnessing her entrepreneurial spirit and love of business—she started the Be Brave Box. “It always made me happy to have surprises come in the mail,” she told The Mighty. “I thought that there should be a subscription box specifically for people with chronic illness to brighten our days and have something fun come directly to us when we are too sick or tired to go out.” Sent out every other month to people across Canada and the United States, the boxes are full of items chosen specifically for people living with a chronic illness—from Be Brave flags and decals to promote positivity and self-care, to supplies like anti-nausea wristbands and reusable fabric face masks, and crosswords and comic books to pass the long hours waiting for doctors. And, because she wants to not only cheer up but also empower, many of the items are made by people living with health conditions. It’s not easy being cut off from friends and Taylor’s boxes are as much about reminding people they’re not alone, as they are about the items in them. “This isn’t just a subscription box,” she writes on her website. “It’s a community to connect with others that go through the same thing.” Be Brave Box turned one this month, and Taylor thinks it can help a lot of people, as it continues to grow. “I want Be Brave Box to be another good part of life,” she writes, “because we need more good in our lives.”
Jesse Mintz is a lifelong learner and believer in the power of stories to educate and inspire. He knows everyone has an interesting story—it’s just a matter of asking the right questions.