Small superheroes with big hearts
They’ve stared illness and bullying in the face – and for their bravery photographer Josh Rossi has turned them into icons
THEY’RE the bravest, the most powerful, the fastest, the fiercest, the smartest and the strongest. They can take on any baddie and beat them – and no feat is too big or small to conquer. Superheroes have dominated the silver and small screens for years now but for John Rossi, a photographer who lives in Los Angeles in the USA, the real heroes aren’t big-bucks A-listers.
His superheroes are young children who battle debilitating diseases and face crushing rejection and bullying at school. That’s why he chose to show them as superheroes – in a project that’s earned him more than 100 million hits on YouTube.
“Many of us want to be superheroes in real life,” he says on his blog. “We want to be Superman and fly, have incredible strength like Wonder Woman and super speed like The Flash.
“Some people, though, already have these superpowers. I set out a few months ago to find the REAL Justice League and photograph them. The kids that my team and I chose have been through hell and back and have real superhuman strength.”
Josh, with the help of his wife, Roxana, initially chose six ill and disabled children to be Justice League superheroes. “Roxana, who produced the shoot, spent weeks searching until she finally found the Justice League kids.”
But during the search he realised many kids weren’t only fighting serious health problems – they were being bullied too. So he embarked on a second project inspired by the latest Avengers movie, Infinity War, this time declaring war on bullying.
The images, he says, show these special children to be the superheroes they really are.
“Going into this project, Roxana and I didn’t know the heartbreaking details of each kid’s story. We didn’t know Jackson Sommers had 35% of his brain missing and that kids pushed him down and spat on him at school.
“We didn’t know Sydney Gerardis was secretly contemplating suicide when her close friends told her they’d throw a party if she died. “We knew we had to help these kids take a stand against bullying.”
‘The idea was to showcase their inner strength in a way that would bring a smile to their faces as well as others struggling with similar issues’