When animator and illustrator Joshua Leonard saw a need for better representation in media of kids with disabilities, he decided to take matters into his own hands – literally. Leonard created a series called “Team Supreme.” This top-notch group of superheroes is comprised of children whose disabilities double as their superpowers.
Let’s take a look at the characters.
There’s Zeek, an 11-year-old boy with autism who uses his advanced mind and “Splinter Skills” to his advantage.
12-year-old Angel has albinism. She is able to disappear completely because of the pigment of her skin.
Li is 12, was born blind and is very quick. Her other senses have been enhanced due to cross-modal neuroplasticity.
8-year-old Sweet Pea is a cancer survivor who uses her pulse and inner thoughts to move matter.
Mech is 9. He is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of polio and uses a giant robot apparatus to make an impact.
At 7, Thumper is the youngest of the group, but he is also the strongest. He was born deaf and has enhanced peripheral vision.
Shock is 13. He lost an arm when he was hit by a drunk driver. He uses a robotic arm as a spray cannon.
At the helm is the children’s teacher Mr. Tiggs, and Dr. Jackson, the children’s adoptive father. Dr. Jackson suffers from depression, is the wealthiest man in the world, and has a passion for science.
In addition to representing a wide variety of disabilities, Leonard’s characters are diverse in race and body shape and have a 3:4 girls to boys ratio within the superhero group—a closer to equal pairing than most superhero series.
To say this is exciting would be a gross understatement. Intersectional representation and superheroes? Yes, please.
Leonard takes representation to the next level with these children. While representation for disabled people is far too scarce, it does exist. What sets Leonard’s series apart is that these kids are not simply superheroes who happen to have disabilities—they are superheroes because they have disabilities. Instead of being limitations, these children’s differences are what give them superpowers. Leonard goes beyond showing children with disabilities that they are seen and valid, he shows them that they are truly amazing and that what sets them apart from other children can give them a true advantage.
Leonard was inspired to make the series based on experiences and observations in his own life. He learned about children with special needs by watching his friends and their children. He called on his own experiences of being a Hurricane Katrina survivor and losing his best friend to murder in order to create stories of overcoming adversity. His character Dr. Jackson is based on his late friend.
Leonard’s groundbreaking series is looking for a home. If you would like to support his efforts to get this initiative off the ground, Leonard has an IndiGoGo fundraiser set up here: indiegogo.com
Thank-you, Joshua, for helping all kids feel seen and valued.