When TV writer/producer Danny Jordan and his wife found out his daughter, Emerson, would be born with a limb difference, he knew that his little girl was coming into a world not always kind to children with disabilities. So, he decided he was going to change that — and that's how the idea of "The Capables" was born.
"The Capables" is a series of children's books in which all the superheroes are kids with disabilities, and their disabilities are actually what connects them to their superpowers.
Danny Jordan and his daughter, Emerson
The first book in Jordan's series is called "Rae's First Day" which is inspired by his daughter Emerson.
"As a first-time dad to be and a storyteller, I just felt compelled to do whatever I could to put something out into this world that would make the world my daughter grows up in more inclusive, more loving, more educated, more empowering," Jordan told Good Day LA anchor Araksya Karapetyan.
Another key difference in Jordan's stories from other children's books is that the villains in his stories are not other people, but rather, experiences.
"Kids oftentimes don't think of other kids being scary, they think of events that are scary to them. It could be the first day of school," he explained. "It's really about things that are scary for kids and 'the Capables' using their superpowers to help themselves and others navigate those scary events."
Nicole Kelley, a former Miss Iowa who also was born with a limb difference, joined the board of his project to help make it not only fun and engaging for kids, but also to help encourage disability pride and help all kids grow their self-esteem and awareness.
"Growing up, I was never taught that the identity of disability was something I could be proud of. I was taught that that was something I should be ashamed of," explained Kelley. "It was really when I became an adult, and really started to face the world by myself, that I really learned how powerful my life could've been if I had that pride instilled from the start, had I had people teaching me the language of disability and teaching me to be proud of needing to ask for certain access tools. These were things that I wasn't taught, stories didn't exist about people with disabilities. I never saw one person like myself on the stage, or screen or in a book."
Kelley said that growing up, she had a lot of experiences and interactions with the world that didn't make sense to her. She dealt with disability microaggressions, where people would make subtle comments or behaviors that conveyed a negative belief or stigma about her disability, and didn't have anybody to explain to her what the appropriate response was when someone does treat her differently because of her disability.
"I just think this is such a fantastic opportunity in this series to get the idea of disability pride into the next generation and save them a lot of time and hurt and heartache that maybe I went through as I tried to find and search for my own disability pride," she said.
"Seeing my daughter being able to hold a book where the hero looks like her, that has my goal from day one," Jordan said. "To see her looking at this book, calling out Rae's name and smiling and laughing as she navigates her story is the greatest sense of joy I will ever know."
Jordan said he decided to put children like his daughter in the hero role to encourage all readers to be more inclusive and understanding when it comes to disability. For more information, visit thecapables.com.