Dressing up as her favourite comic book character brings Teri Ferreira much joy. But this time that meant going to work as Wonder Woman.
Ferreira has taken on teaching cosplay to fifty children at the Chartwell House Montessori Eco School, in Johannesburg. Cosplay will now be taught in the school’s art curriculum – which is a South African first, and possibly the world.
“We’ve already seen the shy children’s personalities come to life. We’ve got one child who came to school today dressed as Black Panther. He walked into the school with such confidence,” said Chetty. “Cosplay is offering kids out there something different. We want cosplay to take us to the next level, where learning should be fun and allow them to get a holistic educational experience.”
This is all part of encouraging the concealed creativity of children aged 6 to 13 years old, inspired by the geeky interest that is taking over the world.
The cosplay idea arose when the school’s owner, Heather Kreusch, noticed 34-year-old Ferreria put up a profile photo on social media of her dressed as Jack Sparrow, from Pirates of the Caribbean.
Kreusch then considered the impact cosplay could have as a learning tool, teaching good values with a strong sense of moral justice and fairness, whilst stimulating the children's imagination.
“The first task I gave them was to think of which hero they wanted to dress up as. Then for homework, I asked them to raid their wardrobes to find any old clothes from which we can make their costumes,” said Ferreira.
To also teach the children how to be creative with the resources around them, the children have been encouraged to make cosplays with a budget, using cardboard to make props, like swords.
“I was really feeling my age when the kids mentioned characters I’d never even heard of. But, I blew their minds when I told them they don’t have to cosplay human characters, the could be Pokémon or even My Little Pony,” said Ferreira. “Some of their parents called me and asked if they could also dress up.”
Within a few days of Ferreira’s first class, where she cosplayed as Tauriel, one of the elf-characters from The Hobbit, children started attending school in all manner of the favourite heroes, heroines, princesses, and Masterchefs, says Sophia Chetty, the school’s manager.
Photographs: Chartwell House