“Is it a bird, is it a plane…”
While the new Superman film is being enjoyed by millions across the world, WhizzKids United have been working with our own men (and women!) of steel, taking them back to the basics of comic book drawing in an innovative effort to give them a safe environment to share their feelings and combat their life challenges.
Following the conception of the project from our partner Cardiff University, we were able to utilise their expertise to run the sessions, held on the weekend of 23rd & 24th February. Twenty nine children attended the workshops which were run at the WhizzKids United Health Academy and focused on them designing their own comics and individual trees of life. Children were taught the skills needed to conceive characters and storylines, effectively convey emotions through their drawings and use these experiences to represent challenges which they face in their lives.
While these are great skills for them to acquire – and they had a great deal of fun learning them – looking more broadly the workshops allowed them an important opportunity to discuss the critical challenges which they face in their lives, such as their HIV status and how it may affect relationships with their friends. In discussing these issues with other children living in similar circumstances a real sense of trust was established; teaching the children that they were not alone in facing the challenges in their lives and fostering a real sense of trust between them.
The workshops weren’t only useful for the children themselves but WhizzKids United as an organisation. As our CEO Marcus says, “WhizzKids United is all about helping young people. If WKUHA are going to help young people we need to know what problems and what difficulties they face”. Working in this creative and innovative way with the children really allowed us as an organisation to understand the issues which they face and how we can ensure that our services are suitable for them.
The comics which the children drew provide a genuine snapshot of the challenges in their lives, whilst also giving a heart-warming impression of their positivity in overcoming them. The children’s artwork has since been digitally coloured and lettered by an award-winning British cartoonist and is now available to view on our website. If you have not already seen the comics I implore you to take a look at their amazing work at www.whizzkidsunited.org/comics.
Having seen and learnt about the success of the comic book workshops which WhizzKids United held in partnership with Cardiff University earlier this year I am excited to report that I will be taking over the organisation of more upcoming workshops which we will be holding with boys and girls from Edendale in the coming months. I am hard at work at the moment working with our Health Academy team to organise these workshops for the children and ensure that they have as big as an impact as possible. I am delighted to say that Cardiff University have agreed to fund and assist us with these events again, and we are very grateful to them for their continued support. Together we can combat the spread of HIV in Edendale and improve the lives of those infected immeasurably.
Watch this space for more superhero stories…. and maybe some comics as well!