Tony Torres-Vanga knows a bit about overcoming obstacles. Born with spina bifida, he spent his childhood learning how to navigate the world both walking with leg braces and from his wheelchair. However, he also spent his childhood learning many of the same lessons that all children learn: how to make friends, how to persevere despite difficulties, how to handle peer pressure, and how to stay true to personal values.
Torres-Vanga, a talented writer and artist, is now taking these unique and universal childhood experiences and transforming them into the Jimmy Wheelz Project.
Jimmy Wheelz is a new hero for children: a young boy with spina bifida who must face the challenges his disability presents and learn how to overcome them. With the help of the Minilights, a group of magical, lively cartoon characters, Jimmy Wheelz realizes that his skills and abilities far outweigh his limitations, and that he can achieve his dreams with hard work and the right attitude.
The Jimmy Wheelz Project is not designed to be â€śjustâ€ť a spina bifida story. Designed as a series of books, films, animation and other multimedia pieces, Jimmy Wheelzâ€™ adventures include not only stories of living with a disability, but also stories about making friends, helping others and learning how to handle tricky situations at school or at home. Jimmy Wheelz is a hero for all children, not just children with disabilities.
Torres-Vangaâ€™s decision to tell the story of Jimmy Wheelz through multiple forms of media also allows him to share his message with larger groups of children. Kids can read about Jimmy Wheelz at the library, or watch an animated episode of Jimmyâ€™s story online. Children with visual processing difficulties can listen to sound recordings that tell Jimmyâ€™s story.
By presenting Jimmyâ€™s story in many different ways, including text, graphics, film and audio, Torres-Vanga is sending the message that Jimmy Wheelz is a hero for all children, regardless of access to the internet or ability to visually process media.
The Jimmy Wheelz LLC startup will launch its first Jimmy Wheelz book in Summer 2014 and is looking for investment from interested organizations to fund further development.