Kids get a taste of superhero life in Paso Robles library program

Jack Tripp, 4, soars through the air — with the help of fans and a green screen — during Super Hero School on Tuesday at the Paso Robles City Library.
Jack Tripp, 4, soars through the air — with the help of fans and a green screen — during Super Hero School on Tuesday at the Paso Robles City Library. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Templeton resident Theresa Clark knelt down and asked her 6-year-old son, Liam, why he likes superheroes. Donning a black Batman costume, the youngster exclaimed: “Because they’re cool, and they fight for good!”

When asked the same question, LaRhetta, his 4-year-old sister, in her matching fuchsia Batman costume, replied: “Because they wear pink!”

Their mom smiled and began to laugh. “Well, that’s a pretty honest answer,” she said.

The family was taking part in the Paso Robles City Library’s Super Hero School activity held Tuesday. The session was part of the library’s free summer reading program, “Every Hero Has a Story,” featuring activities that promote reading for kids ages 3 to 12 and their families, from June 15 to Aug. 15.

The program is designed to “keep kids excited and reading all summer long,” said Heather Stephenson, children’s services librarian.

About 70 children learned just what it takes to be a superhero by participating in an obstacle course, “flying” through a city with the use of special film effects and creating sparkling eye masks and personal logos.

After learning about staying strong by being healthy — each showing off their arm muscles after doing jumping jacks — the children excitedly tackled obstacles as they walked a balance beam, teetered on round steps over an imaginary hot lava pit made with orange-tinted egg cartons and scooted to safety on wheeled discs as they rescued plush animal friends from harm.

“This has been cool. I think he’s pretty stoked,” said Catelin Wise of her 4-year-old son, Jack.

Jack had just come from taking part in the green-screen station where children received capes and were propped up on blocks on a set with fans blowing their hair to simulate a superhero’s flight through a city. Special imaging software then projected the children into a cityscape on a nearby screen to make it look as though they were soaring among skyscrapers. One little boy gave the delighted crowd a big thumbs-up as he outstretched his arms for the scene.

Leading the superhero training were Paso Robles Public Schools superintendent Chris Williams, who dressed as Superman, and district athletic director Rich Clayton, as Captain America.

Nearby, Eileen Higgins, who oversees the district’s visual and performing arts, helped with the green-screen station as Wonder Woman. That station was put on by the YMCA, while the mask-making booth, complete with glitter, paint and glue, was hosted by the Paso Robles Children’s Museum.

“The collaboration has been amazing and to have leaders from the school is huge,” Stephenson said.