Meet Janina Scarlet. Janina is a licensed clinical psychologist, self-proclaimed geek, and the leader of “Superhero Therapy.” It’s a method of self-improvement that’s based on a well of in-depth psychology and pedagogy but in layman’s terms, it’s the idea that good role models help to craft good people…and the role models don’t necessarily need to be real.
Janina has proven this concept time and time again. She’s used role models like Harry Potter, Batman, and even tested her theory with Doctor Who at, you guessed it, Wizards & Warriors STEM Summer Camp with Guardian Adventures!
A few years back, we opened the Gate of Destiny for the T.A.R.D.I.S. and welcomed the good Doctor to Sidleterra. The campers were introduced to the character, his story, good deeds, and morals. The campers were then thrown into various encounters where courage, honor, and compassion were the keys to success. With a little help from The Doctor, they wrestled with concepts like prejudice and even death while also learning more about themselves in the process.
At the end of the camp session, the campers completed surveys that they had also done prior to camp. The results were overwhelming. The campers had grown more compassionate not only towards others but towards themselves. Self-worth, along with courage, honor, and compassion, had all significantly increased. This was the evidence Janina needed to prove that positive role models can be fictional, as long as their message is true.
Want to get the real nitty-gritty of the experiment? You can read Janina’s write up here: http://www.superhero-therapy.com/doctor-who-helps-children-with-depression/
Recently, we spoke with Janina and reflected on our cooperative experiment with kids, depression, and the power of pop culture. She thought back fondly to that summer and said, “What’s really striking is that in just two weeks, by using pop culture, these children were able to understand the concept of death, of depression, and become compassionate towards one another. (Some of these campers) had never met before and (by the end of camp) had developed significant friendships.” It didn’t stop there. “Even one month after the camp, children reported that they were still keeping in touch.” “Thinking about some of the quotes that I read, one of the kids said ‘I’ve never had friends before this camp and now I feel like I have many.‘”
“A lot of children are not taught about mental health, so when they lose a loved one or are going through a mental struggle they may not know how to handle their emotions.” “We’re seeing so many kids, in the United States and worldwide, suffering from mental health difficulties. Having a camp where they can learn to cope with depression, grief, and loneliness is not only healing but potentially life-saving.” “This is a camp that’s not only fun but one where you’re allowed to be yourself. You don’t have to worry about putting on a mask and being someone you’re not. You can get to know other people and really enjoy yourself.”
“I truly believe in (Guardian Adventures’s) work and I think it’s saving lives.” “I think it can help a lot of children.”
The next time you see a Superhero on TV, in a movie, or in a comic book, pay a little more attention to the message. You just might get a little more super yourself. In the meantime, why not try your own hand at a Superhero style adventure? We’re proud to be adding the ranks of Supers to our STEM Summer Camps and School Break Adventures. This will open new doors for our young heroes to face new challenges, learn new lessons, and grow into even stronger heroes in the real world.
Don’t forget your super suit!