'The Super Power of Me Project' celebrates strength, grace of New York City kids

Sandy Kenyon Image
Friday, July 15, 2022
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Outdoors in Brooklyn this summer, you will find a free exhibit called the Super Power of Me celebrating the strength and grace of children. Sandy Kenyon has the story

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Outdoors in Brooklyn this summer, you will find a free exhibit celebrating the strength and grace of children aged 6 to 12.

The show is called "The Super Power of Me," and the idea is to take photos of kids and place them next to poems written by those kids.

When the show was unveiled on July 14, the young people were the stars and took turns reading their poems -- and their words are a window into their world.

"This is me with no apologies," 10-year-old McKenzie Smalls told the crowd. "This is me being exactly who I want to be."

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Her words are paired with a photo of her taken on a Coney Island beach.

"Everything involved with the picture just matches with the poem," she said. "I want you guys to know that I'm not afraid to be me and that I won't fake being myself."

McKenzie is one of more than a dozen kids featured in the exhibit at Dr. Ronald McNair Park, named for a the NASA astronaut who lost his life in the Challenger space shuttle disaster.

The photos were shot by Karen Zusman, who is also a poet and helped her young subjects find their words.

"I thought it would be a great way to involve the children more directly, so it's not just a picture of them," she said. "It's them telling us who they are."

Yamiah Danzler and her mother Yasmine Ruffin were visiting Coney Island from Brownsville when Zusman approached them and asked the 6-year-old girl to pose.

"My daughter fell in love with the idea," Ruffin said. "She gave all her personality on the beach, and it's been an amazing experience."

Elena Sabater is another child who discovered her super power. She said it's OK to be a little scared stepping forward.

She was just 8 years old when she got involved and advises other kids to "just believe in yourself."

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Twelve-year-old Umi Gandy said her super power is just being herself, and she is one of three family members to be featured.

"I think it's an amazing confidence booster for them," dad Dave Gandy said

"It was very emotional just to see your kids in this light," his wife, Marquerite, said. "It's inspiring, right? It's empowering. It's a beauty that we all need to see more, and they see the beauty so they feel empowered."

For more on the exhibit, visit The Super Power of Me Project website.

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