For a few hours Thursday morning, Jan. 30, Station Camp High School was the safest place in Sumner County. Filled with comic book superheroes such as Batman and Wonder Woman and real-life heroes from the Gallatin police and fire departments, the school’s gymnasium hosted hundreds of Sumner County special-needs students for the inaugural “Every Kid is a Hero” day.
The event provided students with a morning of fun and festivity that included costumes, games, face painting, skits, music and photo opportunities with special guests. Each activity was planned to ensure that all children would feel that they were important, regardless of their special needs. At the conclusion of the event, the children received custom comic books from Epic Starfish that featured them as superheroes.
“Every Kid is a Hero” day was conceived by Station Camp High School geography teacher Drew Van Huss. Van Huss was inspired by the work of his former college roommate, Britt Maxwell. Maxwell is the founder of Epic Starfish, a company that produces custom comic books for children that feature their actual names and likenesses as part of the storyline.
“Every kid has a chance to become someone great if they believe in themselves,” says Maxwell. “Our comics help them see that their potential is unlimited.”
After developing a rough event plan, Van Huss approached Station Camp Principal Art Crook to seek his support. Despite the complexities involved with hosting a multi-school event, Crook was excited about the opportunity.
“An event like this is amazing for any kid, but especially for kids with disabilities,” says Crook. “It gives us an opportunity to show that this school and our county has a heart for kids with special needs.”
Once he had gained approval from the school board, Van Huss proceeded to plan the special day with help from Sumner County Instructional Coordinator Justin Alexander and a student leadership committee comprised of representatives from all county high schools.
“Hosting this event is incredibly important for me to put the message out that every kid is a hero,” says Van Huss. “All children need to know that they are special.”