By Rebecca Drew
AS EXCITEMENT for the latest superhero instalment of the Avengers grows, one photographer has spent three months uniting bullied children to transform them into real-life versions of the popular film franchise’s famous superheroes – and it even features Justin Bieber’s younger brother who wanted to get involved in the inspirational project.
The action-packed snaps show the adorable children dressed up as their favourite characters which include, Spiderman, Black Panther, Ironman and the Hulk. Other pictures show brave Jackson Bezzant who has been bullied for the facial deformities he was born with as Captain America defying an evil dark force and Justin Bieber’s younger brother Jaxon as Thor.
Emotional video footage shows the children and their parents sharing their heart wrenching stories before being transformed into the fearless heroes to become ‘The Avengers of Bullying’.
The project was carried out by Los Angeles and Puerto Rico based photographer Josh Rossi. Josh explained where the idea for the photoshoot came from.
“After recently seeing the trailer for the new Avenger’s movie, my wife Roxana and I were inspired to bring bullied kids together to provide a platform where their voices could be heard,” said Josh.
“In the movie, the bully of the universe, Thanos, comes to take over the world, but the Avengers unite to destroy him.
“Each Avenger has unique differences and strengths ranging from green and purple skin to being able to stop time. Without each superhero’s strength and power, their efforts to defeat Thanos will be unsuccessful.
“Similar to bullying, as we unite against it we can stop it.
“Going into this project, my wife Roxana and I didn’t know the heart-breaking details of each kid’s story. We didn’t know that 12-year-old Jackson Sommers (Dr. Strange) had 35% of his brain missing and that kids pushed him down and spit on him at school because he walked and talked differently than they did.
“We didn’t know that Sydney Gerardis (Gamora) was secretly contemplating her suicide when her close friends told her they’d throw a party if she died.
“We definitely didn’t know the cruel words that were said to Grant Southam (Ironman) when he would walk past kids at school every day and they would yell “the retard is here!” while beating their chests.”
The costumes were designed and created by Julie Whiteley over three months.
Josh’s interests started in film and advertising but he quickly realised that his passion was in creating epic scenes using photography.
“After seeing and hearing about all of these kids’ stories, we knew we had to help these kids take a stand against bullying,” said Josh.
“We knew that if we could provide a platform where each kid could make a powerful statement against abuse, it would help unite others against it.
“Once word spread about the project we were surprised to gain support from Jaxon Bieber. Jaxon wanted to make a stand against bullying in a powerful way so he and his dad, Jeremy, flew out to be part of the project.
“We split up the photo shoot into three days because of the size of the group. The majority of the kids live in Utah but are from six different continents.”
For more information see www.joshrossi.com