Since 2011, over a dozen Marymount Manhattan Psychology students have worked alongside Dr. Nava Silton, Assistant Professor of Psychology at MMC, to create
Realabilities, a TV Show and Comic Book Series that seeks to showcase the strengths
and talents of five characters with disabilities, who harness their special strengths to save their school from bullies. Addy with ADHD, Uno with Autism, RJ/Rolly with Physical Impairment, Seymour (Seemore) with Hearing Impairment, and Melody with Visual Impairment use their humor, creativity, mathematical skills, strength, insight, and musical skills, respectively to solve marvelous mysteries and to rehabilitate bullies in their school.
MMC students have joined Dr. Silton in testing the efficacy of various iterations of the show and comic book series with elementary school children around the country. In 2012, Dr. Silton’s research team tested out the first three storyboarded episodes of the show with 87 elementary school students in Baltimore, M.D. and 76 students at Manhattan Day School in New York, N.Y. In 2014, the students tested out the efficacy of the first fully animated episode of the show and the first two Realabilities comic books, “The Real Goal” and “Antsy Addy” with 20 students in Teaneck, N.J. and 152 students in Brooklyn, N.Y.
This past summer, the MMC research students joined Dr. Silton in testing out the full Realabilities School Package: The first five Realabilities Comic Books, The Comic Book Companion, and the Disabilities in Depth Manual in a five-day research intervention with 62 students in Manhattan, N.Y. and 38 students in Paramus, N.J.
Not only have the teachers, students, and schools raved about the programming and comic books, the elementary school students showed substantially improved knowledge, behavioral intentions (using the Shared Activities Questionnaire) and cognitive attitudes (using the Adjective Checklist) towards peers with disabilities following the research intervention in all iterations of the study. The following MMC students have contributed invaluably to the creativity, research rigor, and overall success of the Realabilities TV Show and Comic Book Series: Senada Arucevic ’14, Alicia Ferris ’16, Kristina Keyser ’16, Carol Wagner ’16, Avery Toland ’15, Michael Corning ’16, Michael Rojas, ’15, Danielle Schlough ’15, Rebecca Ruchlin ’14, Rachel Hout ’13, and Vanessa Norkus ’13.
The students are eager to participate in upcoming creative and research opportunities associated with Realabilities, including the official show pitch, creating and researching additional Realabilities comic books and episodes, the design of a potential Realabilities puppet line, and virtual reality simulation equipment for older students. Exciting paths lie ahead for Dr. Silton and our MMC students on this important and thrilling endeavor.
Please feel free to follow the Dr. Silton and her research team’s progress at www.realabilities.com.