Inclusivity Through Art: Interview with Jean Loo, Co-Founder & Director of Superhero Me

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What do superheroes and art have in common? They are both topics of interest that children, regardless of gender, age or disposition, can relate to easily.

Aptly named for its cause, Superhero Me is a ground-up inclusive arts movement that harnesses the power of creativity and the arts to empower children from less privileged backgrounds or who are differently-abled. Since 2014, it has reached out to close to 17, 000 people through advocacy, outreach and inclusive programmes.

Jean Loo – Enabler of the Differently Abled
Image: Superhero Me

The cheery heroine behind the movement is Jean Loo who shared with us about the non-profit organisation.

Little Day Out Speaks with Jean Loo from Superhero Me

How did you embark on the Superhero Me journey?

I was trained in journalism and spent the first 10 years of my career working on stories that highlighted social issues. In 2013, I started to dabble in the community arts, which focussed a lot on co-creating an art experience or art product with a community.

Superhero Me was born as a costume crafting project in 2014, with 15 preschoolers. It was a refreshing way for me to be able to advocate creatively and form relationships with a new community of children whom I hadn’t interacted with before.

Superhero Me uses a lot of arts education in its approach. How do you think the arts has helped children?

Little Day Out Speaks with Jean Loo from Superhero Me
Image: Superhero Me

We use the arts as a means to an end – to enable social interaction between typical children and those with special needs, as well as to build creative confidence in children. We have a core community of children whom we develop artistically and creatively, and many times we see ourselves translating their brand of creativity for everyone else to access.

It has definitely helped the kids with us to know that they are part of something bigger than themselves, and they have a ‘family’ of captains and friends from all walks of life that they can turn to. We’ve seen friendships blossom between our kids of different abilities, our children slowly become “ability-blind” – because the adults in the team model that idea that everyone here is valued no matter what home you live in or if you use a wheelchair or don’t really speak.

What is your vision for Superhero Me?

Superhero Me
Image: Superhero Me

Our vision is that we will one day be irrelevant – because all kids disabled or not can grow up together and not have to be separated because of an education system that sifts and segregates according to ability. I hope to one day work with our kids as colleagues – in some way or another – helping to empower other kids, together.

To get to know more about Superhero Me, visit them online at superherome.sg and bring your family to their events to support the making of a more inclusive society.

READ: Superhero Me develops resources to teach children and persons with disabilities about COVID-19