A group of community artists are helping Cuyahoga County youth in foster care find their inner superhero.
The Superhero Project, pairs artists with youth who are experiencing critical illness, a major change, trauma or special needs. Each child is virtually interviewed by an artist to determine what type of superhero best represents them. Afterwards, the artists design the superhero caricature, creating a visual representation of their strength and resilience.
“The Superhero Project is a positive social-emotional intervention for youth dealing with significant mental health issues, disabilities and illnesses,” said Lisa Kollins, the founder of Superhero Project.
The project, which began in 2017 with interviews of patients at Rainbow Babies & Children Hospital has now expanded to develop programming for youth in the foster care system. As part of the collaboration with the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS), youth will have their superhero alter egos showcased in the childcare room of the Jane Edna Hunter building. Currently, there are eight posters featured inside the building.
While many children feel alone and scared as they traverse through foster care, Kollins said the Superhero Project reminds youth of the special strengths they have within as they go through the next phase of their lives.
“The Superhero Project fosters connections with our community of artists and delivers posters that families share with the world, proclaiming loudly their love and pride. When kids are scared, tired or sad because of the challenges they face, The Superhero Project brings hope,” Kollins, added.
Erika L. Gaiter, the Childcare Supervisor for DCFS said she has personally witnessed the impact the superhero caricatures have on youth who are involved in DCFS programs.
“It’s so awesome to see their eyes light up when they see their own poster for the first time. It’s amazing how the artist is able to capture their likeness in a caricature,” said Gaither who added that the artwork not only provides hope for youth in foster care but also inspires DCFS employees.
“Let’s help more children find that strength within and realize they have the power to achieve what some might seem impossible.”
The Featured Artwork and Artists
Lady Justice - Created by K. (age 16) and designed by Christy Underwood
Strategy Mistress - Created by M. (age 14) and designed by Meredith Noyes
Serenity - Created by S. (age 16) and designed by Lelia Woods
King Unstoppable - Created by L. (age 12) and designed by Shamar Knight Justice
The Voice - Created by B. (age 15) and designed by Tim Switalski
Daya V. - Created by D. (age 13) and designed by Meredith Noyes
Shadow - Created by F. (age 15) and designed by Ryan Garcia
King of Wonder - Created by D. (age 14) and designed by Dani Fischer