New Superhero Team with Disabilities, Creates Mainstream Representation, Promotes Inclusion
September 10, 2019 (Atlanta, GA) – Atlanta-based animator Joshua Leonard’s Team Supreme, a new superhero team representing children with disabilities, is breaking into the mainstream. Team Supreme represents the almost 3.1 million children in the United States who live with a disability, according to a US Census Bureau report, and 95 percent are between the ages of 5 and17.
Inspired to create Team Supreme by a co-worker’s son on the autism spectrum, Leonard’s diverse group solves a problem he’d seen with mainstream superheroes throughout the years.
“It was [always] the same old, big, guy with muscles. I was so tired of them all looking the same,” Leonard said. “I believe we need more representation of people with disabilities in the arts to teach people that different is good.”
Team Supreme, consists of Zeek, 11 years old with autism; Sweet Pea, 8, who is diagnosed with sickle cell; Mech, 12, who is diagnosed with spina bifida; 12-year-old Li, who is blind; and Thumper, 7, who is deaf. Team Supreme is led by Dr. Jackson, who lives with epilepsy and depression.
The lack of representation of people with disabilities in media was less than two percent, according to a 2019 Ford Foundation report, which is why Leonard wants to add to the impact that mainstream superheroes with disabilities have already had. Additionally, his vision is that Team Supreme, who are ordinary people, will use their powers and gifts to promote a world of inclusion and acceptance for those who struggle every day.
Leonard explains, “I want this to reach and teach the masses. The goal is to not only show these specific characters in the light but also to make a fun, cool type of cartoon that everyone will love…I want kids to see themselves in these characters and to believe in themselves.”
Making each character as accurate as possible, Leonard consults with friends and medical professionals about disabilities and medical differences while also doing extensive research on each character’s disability. He also plans to include future team members with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Currently, a grade school curriculum based on Team Supreme is in development to promote the importance of inclusion. Leonard is also working on a potential animated series for Netflix or Disney as well as a series of comic books.
Learn more about Team Supreme and Joshua Leonard in GCDD’s Making a Difference magazine.
About the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities: The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is the State's leader in advancing public policy on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities. Its mission is to bring about social and policy changes that promote opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families to live, learn, work, play and worship in Georgia communities. www.gcdd.org