Daniel Blankenship remembers Darth Vader and a few Stormtroopers giving him a copy of “Clifford the Big Red Dog” as a kid growing up in Flint, Michigan. Initially terrified Vader would go dark side on him if he didn’t read, it put Blankenship on a path to reading and coming to love the characters on the pages.
Now the production coordinator with Tulsa Pop Kids, Blankenship spent time Friday handing out comic books at Apache Manor with a little help from Snow White and The Flash as part of a Tulsa Housing Authority program to bring the superheroes to kids.
“I am a product of what we’re trying to do but through a different program,” Blankenship said. “We’re trying to get a child’s mind interested in reading something they’re interested in. I went from reading (Clifford) to classics, and Charles Dickens is my favorite author.”
The kids at Apache Manor weren’t exactly begging for a copy of “Great Expectations,” but Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and Superman were instant hits at the event.
Lisa Henderson, Apache Manor’s social services coordinator, normally handles programming for adults in the complex. But events like Friday’s for kids are not only for fun but also to learn. The new program is the start to a reading program throughout the summer that will end with field trips through donated tickets, Henderson said.
THA residents often face the barriers of transportation to take kids to see the heroes they’ve seen on TV. Tulsa Pop Kids program, already having visited Parkview Terrace Apartments in west Tulsa, brings the superheroes to kids up close.
Christopher Fusco, dressed up as the Flash, walked in to a line of kids wanting pictures and to meet the Scarlet Speedster. His first time doing an event with THA, Fusco said it’s usually the adults who care the most about the costume, but inspiring the kids makes the red costume worth it.
“Seeing something like that or Mickey Mouse at Disney World,” Fusco said. “You know you make their day, and it’s the one thing they think about all day.”