Seventeen South End families completed the Superhero Family Academy on Saturday, June 11th at the Discovery Station in Hagerstown, MD to develop and nurture their protective factor superpowers. Upon arrival, families registered for the academy and activated their superhero wrist bands as Wonder Woman shared the story “Family Is a Superpower” by Michael Dahl and Omar Lozano. Before officially entering the academy, families posed for family portraits to commemorate the event.
The Superhero Family Academy was designed around the five protective factors that strengthen and support families: social connections, concrete supports, social and emotional competence of children, knowledge of parenting and child development and parental resilience. First stop for parents was training with The Hulk as he explored parents’ critical superpower of managing stressful missions and weathering adversity through self-care. Parents identified coping skills and ended the session with a massage. While parents trained with the Hulk, their children entered the world of “Love and Thunder” with Thor and his team. Children explored their social and emotional competence just as Thor learned to identify and manage his superhero strength. Thor’s team read “The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, practiced their yoga skills, explored meaningful relationships, and made “Bracelets of Love” to remind them that they are always connected to the ones they love.
Parents and their children then reconnected and entered into Wakanda to explore concrete supports in times of need with the Black Panther. Together, families explored “wants and needs”, budgeting, safety within the community and childcare connections. The children practiced their grocery shopping skills through a simulated mission while parents focused on budgeting and financial preparedness. Families acquired these superpowers from the Wakandian’s as they are masters at navigating their resources and being prepared. Families then traveled to a far away galaxy to develop their social connections superpower with the Guardians. The Guardians know firsthand; we all need each other to navigate life, and everyone has strengths. Families were sent on a mission to collect all the critical social connections infinity stones before moving to their next training session with the Incredibles.
Understanding where our kids are developmentally is the key to unlocking our children’s superpowers and nurturing their development. Mrs. Incredible shared lessons learned in understanding what her children were capable of, as well as understanding their individual unique needs. She guided families through a milestones mission and put their knowledge to the test! All 17 families successfully completed the training academy, received their diploma, and refueled before returning to the community stronger and prepared for future family missions. Each family was provided a wagon filled with concrete supplies and summer activities. One parent commented, “I learned that I can be a strong parent when I take care of myself as I am the one that keeps my family together,” while another commented, “I learned how to better save money and that we are really better together.”
Bester Community of Hope provides support and opportunities to families in the South End of Hagerstown through partnership and funding by the Washington County Department of Human Services. If you are interested in learning more about these efforts and others, please connect with us at: www.besterhope.org, 240-513-6370,or firstname.lastname@example.org.