Super Power Baby, Sam and Rachel Callander

The Super Power Baby project is a photographic art book showcasing children around New Zealand who were born with chromosomal and genetic conditions.

The initiative aims to change the way in which children with abnormalities are addressed, and to recognise and appreciate the special abilities they have as a result of their perceived disability.

“It was inspired by our daughter Evie,” says Rachel, “who was born in 2008 with a very rare chromosomal abnormality, and we were saddened and frustrated by the constant deficit mentality and the language used to describe her.

“We felt like it didn’t celebrate who she was and all the amazing things she could do and her personality, and the superpower language came about because we started realising that she had some really interesting environmental cues, like she could sense things that we couldn’t.”

One of those things were the pylons between Timaru and Christchurch. Whenever the Callanders would drive along that stretch of road – if it was day time or night time, if she was awake or asleep – Evie would begin crying. She also would appear flustered whenever she passed under electric doors, big overhead lights, or was in the presence of the electronics at supermarkets.

Evie passed away on the 10th of October, 2010 at the age of two and a half.

The Super Power Baby project is Rachel’s way of honouring her daughter, and a way for the Callanders to meet other super power babies and tell their stories.

The Callanders took to PledgeMe to crowdfund the book. The couple set a goal of $70,000 to cover costs like printing, publishing, and travelling. The response was overwhelming, with $85,288 being pledged by 886 backers.

Rachel says that they were successful because they had intricately planned all the details before the project was launched, they constantly updated their story on social media, and they had a message that resonated with people.

The only thing they had not planned for was everyone’s generosity.

The local community adopted the project as their own and did their best to spread word both around the country and internationally. Members of the local council dressed up as superheroes to raise funds and donated all their proceeds to the project. The Timaru media ran stories about it, which later led to national media picking up the story.

Without that support the project would not have gained as much traction.

So far Rachel has photographed about 50 of the 75 babies who will be in the book. The couple are now working to finish the project and get it published.

If all goes as planned, Rachel and Sam will have the Super Power Baby book available to distribute by July.

You can pre-order the book on their website so they have an idea of how many to print. Sam and Rachel are also planning on making the Super Power Babies book available “in all good bookstores.”

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