Mighty Kids is a co-creation workshop designed to uncover insights around children's perception of power, agency and play. The workshop's goal was to serve as a user research tool to then develop design provocations that align with the specific user's needs, hopes and context.
I hosted the workshop for five children between the ages of 5 to 12. While all of them came from different backgrounds, most where from low-income families and minorities. During the workshop kids created their own superheroes, gave them powers and imagined a story to get them to help with anything in their lives.
Design research | Participatory design | Experience design
INDIVIDUAL PROJECT | 3 WEEKS
Photos by Carly Simmons & Rhea Bhandari
First they created a superhero and gave them two powers. Kids were prompted to think of what power would make them feel confident, powerful and safe if they could become them. For this part they had the option of drawing or making a mask.
An essential finding from this activity was how hard it was to get them to think outside the pre-scripted superhero characters they see on cartoons, actions figures, etc. Some were even searching online to replicate them, based on this, follow-up questions helped understand the underlying values these characters represented and how we could abstract them to understand the qualities they correlate with feeling confident and empowered.
Then they switched superheroes and made a tool that would help their friends superheroes be invincible. This activity helped me see how kids negotiate what they perceived with the world's perception, and how they not only reached agreements but worked together to empower each other. Participants asked each other about their superheroes and then brainstormed how to maximize each other's power imagining all kinds of situations. While all these powers seemed farfetched they helped expressed how they feel in control emotionally.
At last, they created a story for their superhero to help them overcome adversity in their everyday life. They were prompted to think of situations where they felt powerless or like they had no control and to consider how their superhero could help.
This activity was the most challenging for kids, many of them brought up things like not having enough time or too many chores, but they couldn't see how their superheroes could help. So they developed more fantastical stories: making homework disappear or having laser eyes. After going through their stories with them, I learned that most of them feel more confident to take control when they feel heard and supported.
Mighty Kids is part of my ongoing master thesis Unauthorized Play: Design Provocations for children in crisis, which explores play as a catalyst for childhood equality and positive social change.