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In early June 2014, several cab drivers in San Diego gave me my first real sense of the enormity of San Diego Comic-Con International– an annual entertainment and comic convention. One driver told me about fantastic costumes that must not be mocked, not that I would mind you. I really enjoy X-Men, The Avengers, Captain America, Thor, Iron-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Smallville, The Arrow, Firefly, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Fargo, Warehouse 13, Supernatural, Dr. Who, Fringe, Wonder Woman…I could go on and on…and on. And, evidently, the role-playing, use of the imagination and group bonding that is encouraged at a comic con is good for your mental health.

Another driver told me how this year’s conference is overflowing from the San Diego Convention Center into surrounding spaces. In case you have not been to the San Diego Convention Center, it is enormous! The AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting I attended in early June only occupied one of about five sections of the entire space. It took me twenty minutes to walk briskly from one end of the lobby the other.  So, now I get it in a more personal way. Comic cons are hugely popular events.

So, I am pleased to have found a concrete Encore! project at this event. Thanks to “Comic-Con 2014: Charity events from CBLDF, Hero Initiative, more,” I introduce you to “The School of 5,” characters who inspire kids all over the world to wash their hands (and prevent diseases).

credit: My Hero Academy website

SPARKLE: The Big Sister
BIFF. BAM. POW. : Germ-busting Brothers
HAIRYBACK: Big Guy with a Big Heart
And, of course…NOGOOD: The Yuckiest Villian of All

According to the charity events article, the creative team behind the School of 5, Yoe and Stacie June Sheldon – Lifebuoy (a product of Unilever) Social Mission program manager, will be the featured guests on a panel at the convention on Saturday, June 26, 2014 to discuss their award winning campaign to save lives.

I showcase this project as an effective use of creative entertainment tools (e.g., characters, videos and games) to excite and instruct kids. I still remember how the Wonder Twins of my youth activated their powers or how the nervous system works from the Schoolhouse Rock! TV “tutorials.” I have no doubt that this project is having the same memorable, and even better, instructive, effect on the millions of children it reaches.

Their less than three minute video does a great job of explaining the project, including statistics on the impact of the water borne diseases this aims to prevent. Check it out, below.

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