LONDONDERRY — They are heroes and have all the super powers needed to be responsible, caring, and honest children.
The YMCA of Greater Londonderry hosted a Superhero Training Academy ceremony to honor kindergarten and first-grade children who "graduated" from a program designed to teach youth all about being strong in their mind and body while showing great character traits through their own superhero persona.
A ceremony was held both Tuesday and Wednesday nights at the YMCA, with parents, family members and facility staff coming out to see what the children learned and hear all about their special powers to do good things in the world.
The Superhero Training Academy is a 10-week program aimed at teaching the YMCA's core values including honesty, responsibility, respect and caring.
Each child took on his or her own superhero, picking a name and then learning all about what powers can be used to be a good person that has all those values.
The program also taught all about ways to be responsible, respectful, caring and honest by using color recognition and other activities for each value. Children also learned a superhero pledge and received a laminated identification card for completing the program.
Gabby Brickley, program director at the YMCA, said the program was new to the Londonderry facility and popular, with about 75 children participating.
"It's a curriculum-based program, based on those four core values," Brickley said, adding each child prepared his or her own cape, shield and mask as part of the graduation ceremony.
Once donned in their superhero costume, children took on a "museum" pose and then answered questions about who they were and what their special powers were as parents and others approached.
"Parents will ask who they are, and they will give their speech," Brickley added.
Program participants with names like Hero, Rainbow Girl, Dinosaur Man and Electro Man, were ready to show off all they learned.
Once they were ready, children were instructed to head out to the room where parents and other guests waited. Brickley told the children they could stand in a superhero pose, or any way they like.
"I'm a little nervous," said Izzy Simard, 5. "But I've been practicing in the car. My super power is to know how to be responsible."
That includes learning about ways to help around the house and community, Izzy said, like picking up trash and recycling.
Evan Phillips, 6, said he also learned a lot about responsibility.
"I'm going to show everybody that I can be the best superhero I can," Evan said. "You have to be responsible. I will fly so high to help people be responsible."
Another young hero had written his name — Super Speed Boy — on his original shield, adding the words "lightning speed to get from place to another to lend a helping hand."
For Colton Muldoon, 5, it was a way to show off his superhero powers to always be honest.
His mother, Amanda Muldoon, said her son was learning a lot.
"I think he is learning how to be nice to (others)," she said.
Jesse Mora, 6, named himself Power Bidronic Flaptor, a superhero that was all about responsibility.
His mother, Sharon, said her son was also learning about speaking out.
"It's good he's learning to talk to others, he's learning a lot of important things," she said.
Once the first presentation ended, all superhero students then took to the YMCA stage and recited their pledge, showed their superhero poses and then were called to receive their official license.
The YMCA plans to continue the Superhero Training Academy program.
"It was our first year, parents love it, we will do it again," said Jamie Demetry, association marketing director for the Granite YMCA. "(The children) are learning and they don't even know it. They are taking it very seriously."