LIVERPOOL-BASED ADHD Foundation – The Neurodiversity Charity has launched The Umbrella Gang, part of a series of free educational comics which aim to empower children with learning differences.
The Umbrella Gang is based on the Foundation’s real-life group of young ambassadors, and also features some celebrity cameos including Stephen Fry, Rory Bremner, Patricia Kelly (wife of Hollywood star Gene Kelly), singer/songwriter and TV sports presenter Chelcee Grimes, and rapper Loyle Carner, as animated fictional characters.
The comic, now in its second edition, is also inspired by the charity’s Umbrella Project, an art installation which has seen brightly-coloured umbrellas suspended in Liverpool city centre, BBC North at MediaCityUK in Salford, Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and schools across the UK.
Available for free to school children across the country from six to 12-year-olds, The Umbrella Gang 2 follows the characters as they move into secondary school, where in this particular case, neurodiversity isn’t so well understood. We see how the gang navigate these challenges and how they educate the rest of the school about neurodiversity.
Dr Tony Lloyd, CEO ADHD Foundation, said: “We hope the comic sends out a powerful message to young people that being neurodiverse is not just ‘ok’ but also a ‘superpower’ – essentially reframing the conversation to inspire young people to thrive and achieve.
“The comic is a fun concept, but also a vehicle for a much bigger conversation that has captured the zeitgeist of Government and commerce right now in how different minds are great for business and now so prevalent in industries like technology, bioscience, professional sport and media etc.”
Charlotte Dowson, neurodiversity advocate, ADHD Foundation young ambassador, and inspiration for one of the comic’s characters, said: “It is so exciting to be part of The Umbrella Gang and I really want it to help other people like me who may not know how super their neurodiversity power truly is.
“It’s not a disability, and with the right support you can harness it into a strength and be whoever you want to be.”
The young ambassadors who have inspired The Umbrella Gang comic series are:
- Joshua Grenville-Wood, 22, professional golfer, who has ambitions to become world-number-one
- Siena Castellon, 17, neurodiversity advocate, anti-bullying campaigner, founder of Neurodiversity Celebration Week, and UN Young Leader
- Marcus Wilton, 13, neurodiversity advocate, who recently spoke for the All Party Parliamentary Group for ADHD
- Charlotte Dowson, 17, a student at LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) and an aspiring actress with several TV commercials and acting appearances under her belt
- Andy Smith, 21, who works as the inclusion and participation lead for young neurodiverse people in Greater Manchester
- Jay Range, 20, a London-based rapper