WhoYouWant2Be.org—a student-focused prevention resource of Centerstone, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit providers of community-based mental health and addiction services—has created a cautionary comic book for kids. Timed with back-to-school season, Spark and the Sext Message that Nearly Destroys Her is available now for free distribution to schools throughout Middle Tennessee and can also be read and reprinted at WhoYouWant2Be.org/comic.
Written by Centerstone media specialist Ian Skotte with illustrations by Andrew Day, whose credits include productions of Disney Parks and Nintendo, Spark and the Sext Message that Nearly Destroys Her warns readers against sexting—sharing sexually explicit messages or images, usually by phone.
The 16-page, full-color comic introduces Amber, a high school student by day who becomes the superhero Spark by night. After Amber uses poor judgment in sending her boyfriend a topless photo, she has the image deleted, but not before it falls into the hands of Spark’s archrival, The Recluse. Knowing her dual identity, the villain hatches an evil plan to destroy Amber’s reputation and Spark’s unique powers.
“Nothing is ever truly deleted, my girl!” The Recluse reminds her in reference to the hastily shared personal image.
Centerstone program coordinator Ashleigh Hall, a Certified Prevention Specialist, explains that creating the comic was a direct result of discussions with Middle Tennessee students.
“Students we work with helped select the topic and the comic book format. They even helped us choose the illustration style and the color of our hero’s costume,” said Hall. “From the many comic-based blockbuster movies, to the growing Comic-Con culture, kids relate more and more to this creative and visual medium where important lessons can be learned.”
Skotte said the Spark plot developed after hearing a Metro Nashville police officer share a heart wrenching story of a young girl blackmailed by an adult into sending him nude photos of her.
“It was important for us to make our hero fallible because no teenager is perfect,” added Skotte.
Prevention specialists at Centerstone will make Spark and the Sext Message that Nearly Destroys Her available to schools and teachers.. The comic will also be handed out at various back-to-school events, shared with school counselors and promoted via social media.
A second comic about bullying issues is now in development. Through its Be in Charge prevention program, Centerstone serves schools in 26 Middle Tennessee counties. Learn more or make contact at WhoYouWant2Be.org.
The publication of Spark and the Sext Message that Nearly Destroys Her was made possible by a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health.
Centerstone, a nonprofit organization, is one of the nation’s largest behavioral healthcare providers. It offers a range of treatment, support and educational programs and services to individuals who have mental health and addiction disorders and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Each year, the organization serves more than 142,000 people of all ages at 157 locations across Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. It also operates the Centerstone Foundation, Centerstone Research Institute, Advantage Behavioral Health, Centerstone Military Services and Centerstone Health Partners. For more information about Centerstone, please visit www.centerstone.org.
The publication of “Spark and the Sext Message that Nearly Destroys Her” was made possible by Grant Number TP1AH000030 from the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health; its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Department of Health and Human Services.