The Civic Engagement strategy is designed to utilize a fun and interesting way to have youth involved in the world around them and participating in public efforts to improve their community and society as a whole. The morals and lessons of superheroes and comic books are translated into real world applications that allow youth to develop positive ideas and skill sets around grassroots efforts.
By way of example, the Hallie’s Heroes initiative engages youth in the issues of hunger and poverty, empowering them to take action in their school and/or community to help make a difference while understanding the impact of these issues in the lives around them. The development of a toolkit, based on the work that we have done in the last several years, has created a replicable format that can engage youth civically to build a robust campaign that addresses social issues. Building upon the original concept, the tool kit allows organizations and individuals to create their own campaigns with examples and suggestions of materials and ideas.
Comic Book Clubs
The Comic Book Club is a standalone module that can act as an intervention and diversion strategy based on the premise that given a positive alternative, youth will choose a different path to success and community of influences. In the reading and discussion of comic books, youth are absorbing – many times unconsciously – ideals, principles and even strategies for life. Comic books, especially superhero comic books, have reflected the cultural and public affairs issues of the times and often stimulate curiosity,thereby providing some of the threads of learning that lead young people to seek out information, explore creative problem solving, formulate complex opinions, and many times create new things that can better their lives and the world around them.
The purpose of this effort is to instill and inspire this curiosity in the youth of impacted communities where there is often a scarcity or outright absence of positive role models and sources of guidance and moral lessons. Comic books can provide an easily accessible source of moral lessons, inspiration and positive concepts that can have a definitive impact and serve as a pipeline for growth and learning. Clubs meet monthly to discuss the ideas and concepts expressed within the genre and how they relate to real world applications of principles and efforts to make both individual lives and the community around them a better place. Piloted in North Minneapolis with the North Regional Branch of the Hennepin County Library and the 4th Precinct CARE Task Force, the program has expanded to additional sites and developed a consistent program curriculum that can be replicated in communities around Minnesota and across the country.
How To Be A Superhero Initiative
How To Be A Superhero is a two-week module that helps youth develop skills and promotes character development through exploring the basic building blocks of becoming a superhero and how to apply those lessons to real life. Participants develop their own characters during the program, spending time understanding the basic elements: origin story, powers and abilities, costume and identity, purpose, and methodology. This allows them to understand who they can be through envisioning who they create. Performing artists then help youth develop their story and “find their voice” so that they are able to develop confidence and engagement skills in order to articulate clearly their identity and explore their creative impulses.