Supergirl: Blazing New Trails in Comic Book Therapy
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Five years ago, when Julie Averbach was a 15-year-old high schooler in Short Hills, New Jersey, she wrote and published Adventures from My World (AFMW), a comic book to support siblings of individuals with special needs. AFMW was immediately embraced as a critically important therapeutic comic book for an under-resourced group and earned Averbach the prestigious Girl Scouts National Gold Award in recognition of her extraordinary leadership and sustainable impact in addressing a global challenge. By helping siblings express their emotions and recognize they are not alone in their hardships and joys, AFMW has since touched thousands.
“If you think about how many kids in our country alone have special needs or a disability, and so many of them have siblings — it’s clear that there is a real need for this kind of connection and emotional outlet for those siblings,” said Averbach, who recently completed her third year at Yale University.
Averbach, who grew up in a family immersed in the special-needs community, observed a lack of capacity and awareness about siblings’ emotional needs. Adventures from My World was created as a comic book in efforts to address their unique feelings and issues through a compelling and visually appealing platform that inspires connected conversation.
As a comic book, illustrated with the help of several collaborating artists, AFMW reaches readers on an emotional level that traditional books often cannot. The visual component of comic books and graphic novels, along with the use of devices such as speech bubbles and the versatility to read the frames out of order, open new doors onto a deeper emotional dialogue and exploration of empathy.
While therapeutic comic books are growing as a burgeoning new field, Averbach is wrapping up her psychology and art history double major at Yale and contemplating her next creative endeavor. She feels certain that, whatever shape it takes, it will deepen her focus on creating positive social change and utilize all that she has learned from her lifetime in Girl Scouts in how to identify a need, and then confidently dream up and make real a solution.
More than 8,000 copies of Adventures from My World are currently being distributed through hospitals, community support organizations, sibling support groups, schools, and clinical practices around the world.
If you are interested in a copy or in an interactive AFMW workshop, reach out to Averbach through Instagram @adventuresfmw or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.