Super Me in Tobago
A super hero lives in each of us. Dr Anjani Ganase chats with Super Me coach Jaime Lee Loy who is in Tobago this week helping kids to find their super powers. Follow @AnjGanase on Twitter
Jaime Lee Loy grew up in big family and was always engaging in creative amusements and games with her cousins. Art was her avenue to express her emotional self and to deal with struggles in her life. So it was natural progression to what Jaime does today.
|Creating superheroes at Super Me, Summer Camp, Tobago|
I am a contemporary artist and writer with a strong interest and involvement in social and creative enterprise, behavioural psychology, children and education.
Jaime sees art as an avenue to channel emotional struggles and also to develop and project the positives of you. She began working with the superhero concept with her daughter, Kayla, as a way to empower and encourage her to engage in social responsibility. Then in 2012, Jaime decided to apply it to a wider group of children; and the first Summer Heroes camp was born.
|Tobago Summer Heroes campers and volunteers (left to right: Stephanie James, Shana Bhajan, Akuila Edwards, Petra McLeod). Jaime Lee Loy on the right|
Inventing your superhero avatar or alter ego is the core concept and it asks the children to really become introspective and channel positive thoughts of themselves, their vision of a more powerful and capable self, to push the concept of social responsibility and leadership through a simple conceptual exercise and with something they are very familiar with...superheroes.
The mission of the camp:
I aim to inspire children to dig deep, to increase positive self awareness, to become more empathetic and conscious of their surroundings - the environment, community or world - to see themselves as leaders and to channel their fears into tools that can be used for positive change. And while doing this I want to utilize creative processes that become outlets, tools they can use on their own, and explore their imagination. I hope to touch their lives even if briefly and in small ways to positively affect them now and in the future.
The qualities of a superhero are often traits of bravery, selflessness, strength and ability, someone that others look up to. The bigger challenge is the ability to identify these super hero qualities in ourselves. One aspect of the camp is dedicated to identifying these heroic qualities in the campers. For these activities, Jaime brings in professionals from a range of fields – art therapists, artists, creative professionals and other experts – to talk with campers and connect with them. They learn to open up and express their fears, strengths, which they utilise when developing their hero character. From this we get Lightning Boy, who shines the light whenever it is dark and Powergirl who helps people to do their jobs.
The core theme remains consistent but each workshop differs in focus to suit the target audience/group and their specific needs. One workshop may focus on making the costuming of the character and another may focus on producing artwork or developing a story. Either way there are consistent activities that remain: creating safe spaces (think of Batman's cave and a superhero hideout), making talismans - objects that make you feel powerful or safe (such as Green Lantern's ring), making masks that express emotions, and the creation of your superhero avatar.
|Muhammad Muwakil, from Freetown Collective, teaches campers to connect with their true identity and potential|
In the first year of the workshop, Jaime visited 16 homes across Trinidad and Tobago, working with children between the ages of 6 -12. Following the success of this, in 2013, she got enough funding to do a second workshop with a large group focusing on the differently abled. The highlight of that year was the public parade of the super heroes at the end and an exhibition of the characters for one month. In the years since then, she continued the Summer Heroes workshops and has even managed to develop a docudrama. Super Me the film allows the super heroes created in the Summer Heroes workshop, to talk about their powers and the ways in which T&T may need their help. This year, Jaime is in Tobago and partnering with the Yahweh Foundation. Here is what she has planned:
I intend to expand the idea of an alternate character. Yes it is about superheroes, but Summer Heroes is essentially about an imaginative character with superhuman powers. I plan to lightly touch on local folklore characters as well such as Papa Bois. This theme is about a legendary character and his story. So we will focus on the story not just the individual. They can invent a hero but they don't have to be a superhero that wears a cape or that you find in the comics. It can be another type of 'Papa Bois', legendary, mythical character that they have invented.
|Comic book artist, Christopher Riley, guides campers on how to sketch their hero characters|
The projects weren’t only fulfilling to the children. Over the years, Jaime has learnt a lot from the children she’s worked with.
We all have potential, we all have our own talents and strengths and contributions to make no matter how significant in scale etc. A small action, gesture, change of mindset, can have radical and powerful outcomes. I want people to know that. Children are wiser then we give them credit for and are so influential and easily influenced. Some of my greatest teachers have been children
|Petra McLeod guides on how to create Superhero Safe Spaces|
For the past six years, the planning and execution of each of these camps belonged to Jaime, but none of it could have been done without the funding and in-kind support from others as well as the many experts who offer their services for less or generously volunteer their time. The first workshop was intended to be one off, but Jaime’s idea has grown in popularity and evolved over six years and working with many groups. What are the next steps?
I’m at a point where I need to reflect and decide how it will evolve further and become sustainable. Although the core concepts remain the same, the look, feel and logistics always change to suit the group.
I think 10-year old Jaime would be quite pleased with her super hero self.
|Shana Bhajan gets campers involved in some mindful stretching activities|