Silver Scorpion Comics



Contact Person(s) and Details Dr. Valerie Karr
Research Head, World Enabled
Project The Silver Scorpion and “Youth Ability” Summit
Implementing Partners The Pineda Foundation for Youth/World Enabled
Location Damascus, Syria
Date of Project August, 2010
Primary Objective Create strategies promoting the rights of youth with disabilities.
Target Population American and Syrian youth disability advocates


Facts: Syria
(Source: Global Arab Network, 2012

  • A signatory of the CRPD, Syria has a disabled population ranging between 4-6 percent of the country’s overall population.
  • Before hostilities began in 2011, problems strengthening the disability sector in Syria included, lack of data on persons with disabilities (prevalence, types of disabilities etc.); lack of technical capacity to support persons with disabilities (whether through NGOs or public institutions).
  • Disparities are also reported between governorates (fewest services are available in the eastern part of the country where all development indicators are lower than the national average).
  • Multiple forms of discrimination are prevalent. Discriminations faced by Syrian youth and women with disabilities involve lack of equal protection before the law.

The Project

The Youth Ability Summit brought together adolescents with disabilities from Syria and the United States to not only share their experiences, ideas, and culture, but to create strategies promoting the rights of youth with disabilities. One strategy that the youth found exciting was developing a comic book that would promote cross-cultural understanding and underline the principles of dignity, equality and opportunity through the adventures of a disabled super-hero. The comic they developed was entitled the “Silver Scorpion” named after their hero who extols the values of both the Syrian and American adolescents with disabilities. When asked, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” none of the youth participants (all of whom had disabilities) provided answers that one would normally expect – flying, reading minds, or being super strong. Instead, each of their ideas, in the case of both the Syrian and the American adolescents, was surprisingly original. Perhaps because of their disabilities, the young people think as individuals or outside dominant social conventions. One girl, for example, wanted to have the power to ease frustrations and make people happy. It was noteworthy that none of the young people wanted the hero's power to be something that cured their disability.

Both the process of developing the comic book and the disability superhero have had a powerful effect on adolescent agency. Each participant tested their own capacity for understanding diversity, cultural differences, and managed to summon genuine independent and collective creativity during the exercise portion. Participants also benefited from seeing their collective ideas have an impact on the world. The comic has been incredibly successful and has been distributed by the comic book company Liquid Comics in English and Arabic and has since been converted into an internet comic strip and published on MTV’s Voices Website as an animated web-series. The adolescent participants extended their individual and collective agency by giving birth to a collective alter-ego that fights bullying, injustice, neglect, and other forms of agency depriving factors on their behalf.




Participants strengthened their individual and collective notions of Self-determination, Reason orientation and deliberation, Action, and Impact thereby bringing about and contributing to bring about a deeper appreciation of the capabilities of adolescents with disabilities across cultures.


  • Limited number of locations and limited number of rooms were equipped for 20+ visitors with disabilities.
  • Four groups were invited to share their visions and storylines, not all stories or characters could be used for final comic

Lessons Learned

Jay Snyder founder of the Open Hands Initiative made this program possible through his generous support.
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