Mom Turns Kids With Special Needs Into Superheroes in Breathtaking Photos

Judy Dutton | Apr 21, 2015 Being a Mom
Mom Turns Kids With Special Needs Into Superheroes in Breathtaking Photos

superhero project

When Renee Bergeron's youngest son, Apollo, was diagnosed with a rare heart defect, he endured two heart surgeries, a feeding tube in his stomach and countless other medical procedures in a matter of months. "Despite his physical limitations, I didn't want him to view himself as weak or inadequate," she recalls. "So I dressed him as a superhero and took a few images."

That's how The Superhero Project took flight.

"I am a professional photographer, so when I saw how much he loved the photos, I decided to start doing this for other families of children with special needs," Renee, who owns Little Earthling Photography in the Seattle, Washington area, told The Stir. "I offer these sessions free of charge because I want other children to get the same joy out of photos of themselves as Apollo did."

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And the response from the kids and their families has proven well worth it. According to the mom of one "superhero" Victoria who was born with a leg deformity, "The images that Renee has captured of our child are priceless. In them, our daughter is not defined by her 'disability'; I see my beautifully made child and I'm proud of how strong she is. I treasure these photos and couldn't be more grateful for them."

Check out seven of Renee's favorite "superheroes" in the slideshow.

Doesn't photo #7 just say it all about how parents can help special needs kids thrive?


Image via Little Earthling Photography

  • Cody


    "Cody was born with Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome," says Bergeron. "He’s been blessed with good health, but struggles with his extremely low muscle tone, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Speech Apraxia. Despite those obstacles, he is a playful little boy who loves to tease and give hugs and kisses."

  • Melanie


    "Melanie is a bright and energetic 4-year-old diagnosid with autism, as well as epilepsy and sensory processing disorder," says Bergeron. "Even though these conditions make things a lot harder, Melanie has shown nothing but happiness and perseverance. She wakes up every day smiling." 

  • Avery


    "My sweet Avery was born 16 weeks early and has since been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy," says mom Christina King. "Where the initial diagnosis for her ranged from 'vegetative state' to 'blind/deaf/other significant delays,' we have been so lucky. These photos are my favorite of her, and capture her spirit in a way nothing else does. The Superhero Project was a chance to celebrate both who and what Avery is, as well as who she is not; she is not defined by her delays, but is a child who laughs easily, loves quickly, forgives often, and gives her family and friends a profound change of perspective on what we value in life. Her spirit was genuinely captured for the world to celebrate with us."

  • Victoria


    "Victoria was born in 2011 with Congenital Femoral Deficiency, a.k.a. PFFD," says Bergeron. While Victoria faces a childhood filled with surgeries to help lengthen her leg and give her more mobility, the outlook so far looks bright: "She is able to walk with the aid of specially made lifts in her right shoe."

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  • Mordecai


    "Mordecai was born missing several fingers and toes, and has had three surgeries on his hand over the years to increase his range of motion," says Bergeron. But this hasn't stopped this fifth grader from pursuing plenty of passions, including animals, babies, music, LEGO and books.

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  • Avi


    "Eight-year-old Avi faces a variety of sensory and social challenges," says Bergeron. "But she never lets that slow her down. She is in second grade and loves horses, swimming and books. She is vivacious and full of life."

  • Apollo


    "My son Apollo still struggles to eat and running around the yard makes him short of breath," says Bergeron. Nonetheless, "Like most little boys his age, Apollo believes he is the biggest, strongest superhero ever. And I’m not about to tell him any different."

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