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USF professor and young son bring 'Superhero Workshop' to kids of color

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Posted at 8:55 PM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-06 23:23:18-04

TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. — Ten-year-old Nathaniel Freeman wears many titles—he's a coder and a storyteller.

"I code, I make characters, so I'm working on a miniseries," he said.

But he's also a Lego lover and a Black Panther superfan. "I like his costume, he's really cool, he's a king," Nathaniel said.

And now he can add "teacher" to that list after wrapping up a "Superhero Storytelling" workshop with his dad, USF professor McArthur Freeman II.

"I think it was one way to really reach the kids as well, I mean superheroes are really great to do that but also to have a team, a father and son," said McArthur.

Over a two-week period, the duo taught a group of middle-schoolers how to combine tech such as coding, illustrating, and editing with superhero stories about themselves.

The program was largely aimed at black and brown kids in the Bay area and in turn, it exposed them to the world of digital art—while also allowing them to see and create stories that focused on people who looked like them.

"Growing up I remember wanting to see characters that looked like me. I remember trying to learn how to draw and not understanding how to draw our hair because I didn't see the illustrators that I was looking at, they weren't doing that and there's just a lack of that," said McArthur.

And it's a course that McArthur also hopes will spark a passion for the arts. That said, teaching full-time may or may not be in Nathaniel's future.

"I'm thinking of being an astronaut or a game designer," Nathaniel said.

But what's clear is that for now, his passion for sharing his unique gifts with other kids will continue.

"I'm going to be launching a YouTube channel soon, so you should keep an eye out for that. It's going to be called 'Nate Creates,'" said Nathaniel.