Talk Tuesday: Superdad To The Rescue

Alone we walk in solitude, together we walk in unity; a unity that creates change and opportunity. “How am I going to thank so many people”, Dan White says on his website, departmentofability.com. He is referring to the many people who rallied around him to support his comic book venture. But, it is not just any comic book, it is one that depicts characters of varying physical abilities.
Just to give you an idea of the characters in the book, there is a cheetah with one leg, a scientist who is blind, and an alien who is missing an arm. But, the most important character, and inspiration behind the creation of the comic book, is White’s daughter, Emily. Emily was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, causing her to be in a wheelchair.
White describes his daughter as being, “the most fun, sporty, arty, loud, independent person I have ever known.” By her father’s poignant words, it is apparent that Emily is the true definition of how disability does not mean inability. In addition, Emily’s friends served as motivation for the other Department of Ability’s characters.
Growing up, children with disabilities are not widely exposed to television, movie, or book characters who share similar experiences as them. They are not shown by the media outlets how someone with their physical ability can conquer their goals, help others, and overall, be contributing members in society. As White puts it, the characters on television and in magazines, who have disabilities, are often at the edge of the action or are not really characters to promote. All children deserve to have someone to look up to, disability or not, which is what White sought out to do.
The characters in the Department of Ability comic book debunk stereotypes, by sending the message that special powers can be found in all physical abilities. It was important to White that in his comic book, the characters have visible disabilities. This is not to generate sympathy, but rather empathy. Born different; born to save the world, each character represents strength. The comic book is appealing and accessible to all children, showing others that with the right attitude, anything is possible. White said he wants to show others that, “disability is not scary, and that it is not awkward.” If children are exposed to disabilities, the more likely they will be inclusive and understanding as they grow up into adults. Way to go Superdad!


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