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2018 Sep

Meet Real-Life Sheroes

My son, Alex, who is thirty-two and lives in Santa Monica, comes home at least twice a year. The last time was over the winter holidays. As usual, the trip was filled with visits to family and friends, but we also carved out time to go through his collection of things that we’d stored in our “frog” room above the garage. Picture a room filled with boxes of childhood toys, high school art projects, and items he’s accumulated over the past 30-odd years.

We started with several plastic containers that held comic books, comic figurines, and collector cards. I was amazed at what he had amassed during those early years. We unearthed stacks of his favorite comics, some signed by the artist—from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Batman. For hours we skimmed the comics and, like years ago, found ourselves entertained by those superheroes with resonating stories of power, intrigue, and justice.

While my son was lost in reading and checking comic prices online, I looked at him and wondered just how much these superheroes, these icons of greatness, had influenced his thoughts and actions. I’m proud of Alex, who turned out to be a terrific person—caring, compassionate, ready to help others, and a successful entrepreneur. Those superheroes in masks and capes must have had a good impact.

Of all the superheroes, Batman was his favorite, a giant in my son’s eyes. From comics to dress-up costumes and a Batmobile, he loved everything about this man in black—not a bad thing when you think about the lessons Batman taught. He trained himself both physically and intellectually to fight crime, so he was a classic self-starter. He swore revenge on criminals because of the injustice done to his parents. He schooled himself to combat the slickest criminals.

With no special super powers like other superheroes, he uses his intellect to fight crime and mastered skills such as martial arts and forensic sciences to save the day. Not a bad role model for the kids who are now Millennials. They are the generation of proactive leaders and innovative thinkers. They act with conviction and want big wins with no need for handholding on the job. They are the self-starters of emerging markets.

As someone who has spent my career working with Girl Scouts, an organization dedicated to improving girls’ lives, I often look at the world with a “what’s in for girls?” lens. I wonder if any of Alex’s female friends had superheroes growing up. Based on my experience, I’m betting not. They probably had more Barbies than Wonder Woman figurines. Research shows that the comic world was and still is male dominated.

But change is happening. Girls loved the Wonder Woman film that came out in 2017 and other films, like Ghostbusters, with strong women leads. The TV series Supergirl is also popular among girls. Plus, organizations like Girl Scouts are hosting events that focus on superheroes, including superheroes from the community who serve as firefighters, police officers, and emergency responders.

Perhaps they don’t typically wear capes but, nonetheless, they wear superhero uniforms. One upcoming opportunity for your daughters to meet real-life superheroes is Meet the Sheroes, sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast. The free event takes place on September 29 at Pembroke Mall in Virginia Beach and, on the same day, at Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News. Attendees will have a chance to walk around and visit with women in a variety of professions.

Spending hours looking through boxes of comics and toys was time well spent—time with my son and time to reflect on what imprinted on our lives. As the old English proverb says, “You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” And as Batman once said, “A hero can be anyone!”

Meet the Sheroes will be held on Sept. 29 from 1-4 p.m. at two locations: Pembroke Mall in Va. Beach and Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News. Your girl can also learn more about joining the Girl Scouts at these events. For more information, please call 757-547-4405.

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