Boys Town North Florida Students Participate in a Battle of Comic Proportions
Like so many organizations affected by the global pandemic, Boys Town North Florida (BTNF) had to rethink how it created learning and engagement opportunities for students. Over the summer, the children of BTNF had the opportunity to connect with peers, show off their creativity, and hone their literacy skills by participating in the Clash of the Heroes Character Design Contest, an online competition held in partnership with the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL) and supported by the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR).
According to FCRR Senior Research Associate and contest coordinator Dr. Latara Lampkin, “Everyone embraced the idea that in the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity.” Through her efforts, partnerships were forged and BTNF was able to provide its youth with a unique educational experience.
The Clash of the Heroes Character Design Contest consisted of two parts: character design and creative writing. First, the students had to create and design a superhero. After a winning design was selected though a web-based vote, students were tasked with writing and resolving a conflict for the character through a narrative component. A second vote determined the winning story, and the selected design and narrative were transformed into professional comic layouts by FCRR and NCIL illustrator Daniel Hooker.
For many of the students, it was their first time taking on such a project. Nathan Archer, Director of Innovative Research Dissemination at FCRR, cartoonist for the Tallahassee Democrat, and a longtime supporter of BTNF, provided students with a series of educational workshops on character design and creative writing to introduce them to the skills they would need to participate. Dr. Lampkin enlisted Mars K.R., a young, aspiring artist and writer, to co-facilitate the workshops.
“The Clash of the Heroes Character Design Contest was a great opportunity to partner with Boys Town North Florida. Working alongside NCIL, particularly Dr. Christopher Stanley, and with my colleagues at FCRR, we were able to leverage our expertise and resources to provide this fun, educational experience to promote literacy and engage BTNF’s youth,” Dr. Lampkin continued.
This is a great example of a research-community partnership and the type of collaboration needed to provide high, quality educational experiences to support the educational stability and achievement for children and youth in care, particularly during these times.
Dr. LaTara Lampkin
According to Dr. Lampkin, the alliance of centers was critical to the project’s success. “This is a great example of a research-community partnership and the type of collaboration needed to provide high, quality educational experiences to support the educational stability and achievement for children and youth in care, particularly during these times.”
Boys Town is a non-profit organization that serves at-risk youth and families through an integrated Continuum of Care. Nationally, Boys Town reaches over 2 million people each year, in local areas through their national hotline, books, online resources, and national research hospital. BTNF is one of thirteen Boys Town sites across the nation offering its own set of child and family services in the Tallahassee area, since 1983. They partner with area agencies and businesses to constantly enhance the quality and variety of care they provide in the community. Every year, their programs and services touch the lives of more than 5,000 people in North Florida. The site offers Treatment Family Homes, In-Home Family Services, Foster Care, Care Coordination Services and Common Sense Parenting® classes.
The Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) is an interdisciplinary research center at Florida State University. Drawing from multiple disciplines, FCRR investigates all aspects of reading and reading-related skills across the lifespan. Through rigorous and robust research, innovation, and engagement, FCRR advances the science of reading to improve learning and achievement from birth through adulthood. For more information, please contact Nathan Archer at email@example.com.