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Remember Blue Ear, the costumed character created in 2012 by Marvel to convince then 4-year-old Anthony Smith that superheroes do wear hearing aids? Well, now meet Sapheara, a pint-sized superheroine with cochlear implants.
She teams with Iron Man and Blue Ear in Sound Effects, a new comic by Marvel Custom Solutions and the Children’s Hearing Institute of New York that addresses cochlear implants, bullying, hearing-loss awareness and hearing-loss prevention. It will be distributed later this month to about 150,000 students in grades 3 through 7 in the New York City area.
The comic was unveiled Saturday at an event at the Ear Institute at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai that featured an appearance by Iron Man. “We wanted the pediatric patients to really revel in the experience of having a superhero all their own,” Melissa Willis, executive director of the Children’s Hearing Institute, told ABC News.
“It is crucial parents and children understand the facts about hearing impairment and the many viable treatment options available for patients with all levels of hearing loss,” Dr. Ronald Hoffman, medical director of the Ear Institute at NYEE, said in a statement. “Having Sapheara as a resource for entertainment and education could help many more patients receive the evaluations and care they need to lead active and engaged lives.”
Inspired by the story of Anthony Smith and Blue Ear, hearing-aid distributor Phonak teamed with Marvel last year to produce a poster — really, a one-page comic — that depicts a group of kids reluctant to allow a deaf classmate to play soccer with them until Iron Man arrives to convince them he isn’t much different than they are. Anthony and his mother Christina D’Allesandro were on hand for the unveiling of the poster, which was distributed to pediatric audiology clinics nationwide.