Going to school is a fraught time for children. Social circles change constantly on top of academic expectations, and there is always the possibility that a bully will focus in on you.
After one girl in Florida came home with signs that she was being attacked, her mother brought in a particularly useful guardian: Batman.
As reported by 10News WTSP and Bleeding Cool, the girl’s mother Erica noticed some drastic changes in her daughter’s behavior: she had come home with a black eye and was reluctant to return to daycare. Even though Erica had reported the behavior to the daycare, it didn’t seem to stop things, and she posted about her frustration on social media.
Those posts attracted the attention of Jack, a cosplayer known as The Batman of Spring Hill. On his Facebook page, he explained that he reached out to the family to ask if he could walk her to daycare. “Hopefully this will help her overcome the fear knowing who has her back.”
Erica agreed, telling Tor.com that her daughter was already a big fan of The Batman of Spring Hill: they’d seen him the year before, “and has been a fan since.”
“When she first saw Batman walking toward her, she was shocked. Her mouth was completely opened, and she didn’t want to get out of the car at first. I had never seen her so shy. It was priceless.”
Erica and Jack agreed, and he walked her to school, assisted by a new addition to the daughter’s wardrobe: a Supergirl costume.
The visit seems to have helped: Erica noted that her daughter “hasn’t stopped talking about Batman and she definitely got some fans at daycare this week.”
I made a new friend today. This is Lydia. I was heart broken when I saw her mothers post she was being bullied in…
While many think of costuming and cosplay as an activity reserved for conventions, parties, or Halloween, some cosplayers use superheroes as a means of bringing awareness or social support to those in need. Groups like the 501st and Rebel Legions (of which I’m personally a member) from Star Wars have a long history of raising money for charities or visiting children in hospitals, while other cosplayers have stepped up in other ways.
During one notable incident in 2010, Chicago writer Carrie Goldman wrote that children at her daughter’s school were making fun of her for bringing a Star Wars water bottle to school.
“The first grade boys are teasing me at lunch because I have a Star Wars water bottle. They say it’s only for boys. Every day they make fun of me for drinking out of it. I want them to stop, so I’ll just bring a pink water bottle.”
When members of the 501st learned that she wanted to be a stormtrooper for Halloween, they chipped in to build a proper, child-sized set of armor. While Katie might have outgrown that suit of armor, it’s since been passed along to other girls who found themselves in similar situations.
Other cosplayers have provided help in other ways: in 2013, a five-year-old cancer patient named wanted to be Batman. The Make-A-Wish foundation helped make that happen, enlisting the services of a former game developer and the entire city of San Francisco, who turned out to cheer Miles on as he saved the city. (He’s now cancer-free).
In many ways, cosplay can become a powerful tool for people looking to overcome fear in all of its forms, whether it’s from a deadly illness or from bullies in the classroom. Superheroes are the embodiment of bravery and courage, and while they’re fictional characters, a cosplayer can bring them to life right when they’re most needed. Jack’s trip to school wasn’t the only thing he did that day: he visited a boy named JoJo, who had been involved in a hit-and-run accident.
Erica noted that the day was a special one. “I think it’s thrilling and exciting, especially with children,” she said. “She will never forget this day and she gets to share this story for as long as the dream lives in her imagination.”