We often forget representations of disabled children even as we are fighting for representation for other subgroups. Children are already part of the most vulnerable groups in society and when a disability is added into the mix, things can get even tougher.
Positive representation of groups in media, including books and shows on TV, help to inspire and encourage people to meet life head on. An animated concept by Atlanta native Josh Leonard is attempting to be that for disabled children.
Team supreme is the name of the animated concept which features a cast of superheroes with disabilities who come together to take on various bad guys. The members of Team Supreme each have an individual superpower, tied to their disabilities, which makes them a key part of the group.
Leonard writing about his concept says;
“I chose to focus on [kids with disabilities] because it hasn’t been done yet… It was simple for me, really. My cartoon is needed.”
“I wanted to create characters with an amazing, compelling story that was also cool enough to where the kids could not only relate to these characters, but also like and appreciate them,”
The disabled children that are at the heart of Team Supreme
As mentioned earlier, each member of the team has a superpower that is tied into their disability. The main character is an autistic boy named Zeek. Zeek has the power to slow time down to a snail’s pace, a superpower inspired by “splinter skills,” which allow some autistic people to retain large amounts of information in no time at all.
Another team member, Li, was born blind but has the power of supersonic hearing. Shock, another team member, was hit by a car and lost his arm but he has a prosthetic arm that transforms into different tools to help him take on even the toughest of villains.
Included in the team are also a polio survivor who is now paralyzed, a girl who lives with Albinism and a boy born prematurely who has hearing loss. Leonard who does not have any disability said that he taps into the community through the disabled children of his friends who were the initial source of his inspiration.
In conceptualizing his show, Leonard said that he spent time with these children, as well as adults with disabilities, observing and noting unique aspects of their lives and mannerisms that related to their disabilities;
“When I would take notes of different people, [people with the same disability] would all have at least one of the same traits…Those are the characteristics I would choose to focus on to make my characters as true as possible.”
Currently, Leonard is still creating initial animations to imagine each character’s movements and he is doing all this while working full-time and going to school for animation. He hopes to launch a Kickstarter at the end of May, with a goal of raising $25,000 to create an episode of Team Supreme, after which he will pitch it to Netflix.