Heroes one and all
A NEW book is aiming to teach kids that true superheroes can be found close to home.
My Friend is a Superhero was written by friends Barbara Pike and Philip Patston to drive children and their parents away from negative stereotypes about people with disabilities.
The 32-page book follows an ‘‘ambiguous gender character’’ whose friend Jack is in a wheelchair, explains first-time author Ms Pike.
‘‘Instead of seeing it as something strange and different, they imagine Jack is a superhero because he is doing all this amazing stuff. Like going up hills really fast, playing basketball and doing tricks at the skatepark,’’ the Mt Albert resident says.
Co-author Mr Patston was born with cerebal palsy and has been a wheelchair user for much of his life.
He says the story is intended to reframe the notion that being in a wheelchair is a limitation and instead present it as a positive.
‘‘There is a page where Jack is doing superhero training and that is really a reference to kids often going out of class to do therapy, so it’s reframing therapy into something cool,’’ the Westmere resident says.
The book is published by Diversityworks Trust, which was established in 2005 by Mr Patston as a vehicle to create social change.
The two authors say the book encourages children’s natural curiosity and portrays the diverse aspects of people.
‘‘You get that thing where a little kid will see someone in a wheelchair and point or stare, or ask a question, and the parents will tell them that it’s rude,’’ Ms Pike says.
‘‘It’s like a fear reaction, so we are trying to get rid of that.’’
Mr Patston says the key message of the book is that ‘‘it’s OK to be friends with somebody different’’.
‘‘Being in a wheelchair isn’t bad, it can have benefits. Kids in wheelchairs can be part of a school community and actually add something,’’ Mr Patston says.
‘‘We are all superheroes, we are all unique and we all have strengths and weaknesses, they just manifest in different ways.’’
My Friend is a Superhero is illustrated with brightly coloured drawings by comic artist Sam Orchard.
He says the book presented its own challenges.
‘‘It was a new thing drawing a wheelchair and working out what that would look like, there was lots of Google image searches,’’ Mr Orchard says.
A PledgeMe campaign has been set up to raise the $3500 needed to print 1000 copies of My Friend is a Superhero.
The money will only be received by Diversityworks if the financial target is met by the March 31 deadline.
Duffy Books in Homes has agreed to distribute 500 of the books to decile 1 to 3 schools if the PledgeMe campaign is successful.
Some of the books will be sent to pledgers who have donated more than $20 to the scheme.
Any books left over will be sold, with profits going towards a reprint.
Everyday heroes: Sam Orchard, left, Philip Patston and Barbara Pike are trying to raise money via PledgeMe to have their new book printed for distribution to low-decile schools.
Reframing: My Friend is a Superhero aims to reframe disability through the lens of diversity.
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