Almost every superhero story has several ties to real-life issues, which can be used as clinical metaphors. Superman leaving his home as a baby can be used as a metaphor for adoption or early childhood trauma; Batman witnessing his parents being murdered can relate to adoption. Superheroes have traumatic life stories, yet they overcome adversity and develop beyond-human abilities. Although children cannot develop superhuman powers, identifying with the characteristics of a superhero can help children overcome unfavorable circumstances and issues associated with their emotional difficulties.
These insights are what led to the What’s Your Superpower co-creation workshop that encouraged students to redefine how they perceive emotions. It took place at the Reece School and Sage Day School, both of which have a population of students with emotional, behavioral and/or learning difficulties. Having previously worked at the Sage Day School, I had a direct contact and was able to set up the workshop easily. I had no affiliation with the Reece School but took the initiative, cold-called them, pitched the workshop and they said yes! The two workshops occurred on the same day. Since the Reece School is located on the Upper East Side in Manhattan and the Sage Day School is located in Rochelle Park, New Jersey, it was an adventurous day given that I conducted both workshops by myself. I traveled between the two schools by train and by bus, carrying all of my materials and a camera for documenting the events.
• Co-creative workshop
• Experience Design
• Journey Map
I provided students with workbooks and guided them through a series of instructions. First, I asked them to identify an emotion; second, to envision that emotion as a superpower; and last, to construct a wearable design based on their superpower.
Designs ranged from hats, arm sleeves and capes to full body suits, all meant to be worn on the body as a way for the students to metaphorically wear their emotions and carry with them the ability to cope with their difficulties wherever they go. The goal was to develop insights that would inform future work by observing how the students interpreted and engaged in the assignment.