SUPER ME: Where Child Heroes Can Participate in Good Causes

Source: Guardian

Who are you?

What's your secret superhero identity?

How will you positively change the world?

These questions form the core discussion of a docudrama entitled SUPER ME (2015), directed and produced by artist Jaime Lee Loy with a grant from the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company, and nominated for a UN Award at the local film festival in 2016.

The film interviewed participants from SUMMER HEROES (SH), an annual not-for-profit programme founded in 2012 by Lee Loy, through her social enterprise, Trinidad Home Studio Ltd. Dressed as superheroes they designed, the children spoke about imagination and its power to transform. They shared their vision for a better future, noting we can be everyday heroes by being kind or helping others.

SUMMER HEROES (soon to be renamed SUPER ME), works with children between six and 12, advocating self-help through imagination, the freedom of artistic expression, character development, social responsibility/awareness, leadership capacity, self-esteem, and problem solving. They invent personal superhero avatars, develop their powers based on their strengths, and overcome adversity through their metaphorical nemesis or real-life fears.

A specific curriculum is tailored by Lee Loy for each individual group, and she hires a licenced art therapist (Sian Mclean) alongside artists and motivational facilitators for specific projects. Each year the medium and approach changes, yet the fundamental mission and concept remains the same.

This programme has received support from exceptional volunteers, individual and corporate sponsors (financially and in kind), NGOs, and a few dear friends and family of the artist. They are credited on the SH website.

Art therapy uses specific creative activities to assess a participant psychologically, and practised only by licenced therapists. Summer Heroes does not operate from a clinical perspective, or offer formal art therapy, but focuses on the power of art and its practice, and on the potential it has to be therapeutic and self-empowering. It has a strong psychological and art focus.

Children can become volunteers

Aside from the yearly intensive workshop and advocacy initiatives, there is an outreach component where child heroes can participate in good causes as volunteers. Mobile art centres and other creative services are also provided where possible to other organizations upon request.

Services/workshops have been provided for free to all participants since inception.

SUMMER HEROES was launched in July 2012 when Lee Loy wanted to introduce her own daughter to social responsibility. A drawing collection from 124 participants from 16 local homes and centres was produced. Members of the public and corporate sponsors donated art materials to each child and all participants received awards and personal copies of the collection, while treated to a field trip.

In 2013 the project took an immense leap with an intense week-long workshop, public parade of costumes, and a photographic art exhibition. The Goodwill Industries nominated 21 heroes with special cognitive needs who were physically older than their cognitive function.

In 2014 and 2015, participants from the 2012 and 2013 programmes were partnered with new heroes and facilitation occurred all year round, the results of which are shared in the 2015 film SUPER ME. In 2016 the film served as an advocacy element of the programme and schools throughout the country viewed it at IMAX as part of the ATLANTIC Ultimate Field Trip experience.

In 2017, SUMMER HEROES invited the 'Just Because Foundation' (JBF) to participate in a week-long intensive workshop, facilitating members of the JBF's “Siblings Only Club,” which comprises the siblings of children with paediatric cancer who are part of a support group.

For more please visit summerheroestt.com; SUPER ME FILM on Facebook; or contact Jaime Lee Loy at superme@summerheroestt.com