Summer Heroes (SH) is an annual not-for-profit programme founded and implemented by artist Jaime Lee Loy. It is supported by proceeds earned from her Social Enterprise Trinidad Home Studio Ltd (THS) as well as the contributions of supportive companies and individuals.
SH is not an NGO or organization, it is an ongoing programme. SH utilizes art approaches and original creative activities that are therapeutic in nature, and that promote self-healing and personal development.
Summer Heroes works with children cognitively aged between 6 and 12, advocating self-help through imagination, the freedom of artistic expression, character development, social responsibility/awareness, leadership capacity, self-esteem, and problem solving. A licensed art therapist is consulted and hired for specific activities.
Summer Heroes will sometimes request the services of artists, art therapists and other creative professionals when implementing it’s curriculum, whose processes and activities have been specially designed to complement its overall mission.
Art therapy essentially uses creative activities to assess a participant psychologically and to achieve a therapeutic and psychologically positive purpose. When speaking of art therapy from a clinical perspective, it is practised only by licensed art therapists. Summer Heroes hires art therapists to aid in it’s creative activities but does not operate from a clinical perspective, and focuses more on the power of art and its practice, and on the potential it has to be therapeutic, healing and self empowering.
The activities are not simply fun creative ones. They have been formulated to have a strong psychological focus and professionals working in character development and leadership are key to the programme. Their activities usually run alongside the creative ones to bring a more holistic experience to the workshop, making it truly one of empowerment.
SUMMER HEROES asks young people between the ages of 6 and 12 (older if cognitively functioning at this age) to depict themselves as superheroes. After inventing their own personal avatar based on their own talents and strengths, they are asked to imagine positively affecting their own lives, communities, country and world. SUMMER HEROES nurtures imagination, creativity, social awareness and leadership in the nation’s most important heroes – it’s children and young people.
CAPTAIN TRINBAGO from a 2012 Participant
In 2013 the Outreach component was introduced providing children with an opportunity to pursue real superhero ‘good deeds’ further to their imagined ones. Each year the medium and approach changes yet the fundamental mission and concept remains the same.
The core concept is simple. This concept is fundamental to all the structured activities within the programme.
If you were a superhero what would you look like?
What would your special powers be and what would you do with them?
Who would your secret super hero identity be?
Summer Heroes launched in July 2012 as a simple idea. Within two months a drawing collection from 124 participants from 16 local Homes and Centres was produced. The results were amazing. Members of the public and corporate sponsors donated art materials to each child and all participants received certificates of excellence and personal copies of the collection. In December they were all treated to a field trip at IMAX and the Emperor Valley Zoo.
All participants shared their secret super identities with us and gave us the opportunity to enter their worlds, their minds and ambitions – and we realized that these amazing young people were very perceptive about their country and its needs, and despite many of them having lived through harrowing and abusive situations, they were all able to identify their personal strengths and a desire to help others.
In 2013 the project took an immense leap with an intense week-long workshop, public parade of costumes and a photographic art exhibition. The Goodwill Industries nominated 21 heroes with special cognitive needs who were physically older than their cognitive function which ranged from 6 to 15 years of age. Although the quantitative numbers were less the qualitative component of 2013’s success is immeasurable.
At the end of 2013 the project’s founder Jaime Lee Loy, received an artist grant from the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company to produce a docudrama. Lee Loy plans to engage selected heroes from the overall programme. Entitled SUPER ME, it launches at the Film Festival in 2014.
YOU CAN BE A HERO TOO
You can donate towards specific activities, supply in-kind materials, volunteer your time or simply spread the word. Eventually Summer Heroes aims to be an educational resource enabling youths and young children to inspire each other through their work, and by providing activities/ materials that can be used in schools, at home and beyond.
We all have superpowers. What’s yours?