Super Me, a docudrama film featuring children and young people who took part in the charitable Summer Heroes art therapy program between 2012 and 2014, is a poignant reminder of what children are capable of, if given the opportunity to express themselves.
Super Me was screened at Imax on March 21 to an audience of students and teachers from Maria Regina, Holy Name Convent, Dunross Academy, Rainbow Rescue and Goodwill Industries.
The programme is the brainchild of Jaime Lee Loy, who began it in 2012 with her daughter Kayla (AKA Ninja Girl), and expanded it into local children's homes and centres as a way of teaching Kayla to be socially responsible.
Lee Loy, an artist, writer and filmmaker, said, "The children who participate in the programme invent a superhero identity for themselves, based on themselves and their talents, strengths and self-perception.
"We encourage social awareness, responsibility and leadership skills. We hire art therapists, psychologists, artists and character development professionals to explore art as therapy through a curriculum." The programme has worked with homes such as Rainbow Rescue and centres such as Goodwill Industries.
The children featured in the film, ranging from ages six to 12, share their ideas on issues that affect them: crime, pollution, the environment, children's rights, as well as how their superpowers will help them to fight these issues. They are seen doing everyday things like homework, laundry and the dishes, and then their alter egos appear and say what they can do to change their world around them.
The imaginary powers they possess run the gamut from the ability to shoot lasers from their eyes or hands; to being able to changes people's minds and attitudes; to freezing enemies; to drawing or writing things that become real.
Lee Loy said the film is powerful because "it's young people talking to young people, but about serious things, so we still have the innocence and the childhood playfulness but you also have them tackling issues that are pertinent to them and their space in the world." The children shared wisdom during the film. "If I grew up doing the right thing, I can teach the smaller ones to do the right thing. People have to start with themselves before they could see about others," said one child.
"Art helps with imagination and vice versa. If I'm mad, sad, angry, I can draw it out.It just makes me feel there's this whole new world that I never explored before," said another.
Poet and writer Muhammad Muwakil, who was also part of the Summer Heroes programme, said the film was amazing. "A lot of times we ignore children. Sometimes they say some really profound things and sometimes we just dismiss it because we think maybe they're too young to say that or they couldn't have meant that, it's too profound.
"But sometimes children say some profound things and really do mean and know what they're saying, and if we would pay a little more attention to them we would see it." The superheroes featured were Super Five, Super Derek, Sunflower Girl, Fire Man, Captain Trinidad, Half Woman, Alfa Freeze, Mighty Man, Super Atisha, Super Boy Lightning, Super Sarah, Wonder Writer and Mood Goddess. Super Ninja is the narrator of the film and the head of the Volunteer Group. Other superheroes who participated in the film and are outreach volunteers for Summer Heroes include Super Mario Logan, Super Sonic Isaiah, Super John Michael, Princess Krystal, Super Sahara, Princess Jade and Brave Bella.
Lee Loy said the children have told her the programme has helped with their self-esteem and they become more aware of how they can actually make a difference in the world around them.
"I find that a lot of young people don't become socially aware in terms of responsibility unless their parents specifically push that. It's not just something we teach. So that's what the film was about, it's made for kids, for young people and the idea is to get as many schools as possible to see it." Super Me can be viewed at Imax soon. In addition to public viewings, schools and groups can book a field trip to Imax to watch them film under the theatre's Atlantic Ultimate Field Trip Experience.