If you or someone you know has a child with a disability, you likely understand how difficult it can be for the child to fit in with their peers. As a parent, it can be just as hard to watch them struggle once they realize they’re a bit different from those around them.
But one father in Orlando, Florida has found a way to help his two sons learn that, though they may be different, they aren’t defined by their disabilities.
This dad has requested that, in order to protect his privacy, we not share his name or those of his family members. But we are allowed to share info on this series of YouTube videos that the professional animator and his wife, an elementary school teacher, are working on to show their children that while their disabilities may limit them in the world, there are no limits when it comes to their imagination.
The video series, “The Go Go Brothers,” follows the two young siblings—8-year-old “Rooey” and 6-year-old “Bean Boy”—as they go on zany adventures in a cartoon paper world. The “Go Go World”—named after their dog “Go Go”—is comprised of both viewer-submitted drawings and artwork created by the brothers and their dad.
“As parents, while we do the best we can, we don’t have all the right answers. But the one constant in our life that has always brought a sense of comfort to the boys is art,” their father told Simplemost. “[With “The Go Go Brothers”], children get the chance to see their own artwork come to life, all while teaching them basic principals of story structure. By breaking down submissions into ‘Who, What, Where and Why’ … the Go Go Brothers set off on small adventures powered by imagination.”
Here’s one example, in which brothers jet off in a hand-drawn spaceship:
“Rooey” was diagnosed with a speech and language disorder when he was 3, and was further diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD at age 6. “Bean Boy” has the most severe form of spina bifida, myelomeningocele.
In 2016, the brothers started becoming more “self-aware” of their respective disabilities, and the self-esteem they had when they were younger began to fade. It was their imagination that helped them overcome some of the obstacles associated with their disabilities and allow them to “escape” from the real world.
“The idea to do Youtube videos has been there for a long time,” said their dad. “We would make silly videos, which friends and family members would see and then suggest we do more. We would always talk about creating a show that somehow used the boy’s artwork. But that’s all it would ever be—just talk, nothing more.”
“Over time,” he explained, “the boys would encounter further struggles relating to their disabilities, and it really starting becoming something that was dividing them and other children their age. No matter how much we would explain that everyone is different, and that everyone has different personalities, it was clear that we needed to change our parental tactics. We needed to somehow actually ‘show’ them versus ‘telling’ them.”
So they have. The show launched Dec. 1 with an episode titled “Shark Wizard,” where the boys explain the Go Go World and how the Go Go Generator works. It sets up how a viewer can send in an idea and how the idea becomes the story. Everything is shot on a green screen set up in the family’s garage and they usually shoot every other weekend or so.
“The whole process has given the boys a newfound sense of pride and encouragement. We are seeing improvements in their social skills, and seeing a newfound willingness to push themselves beyond their comfort zone,” their dad said. “‘Rooey’ is starting to learn how to advocate for himself and ‘Bean Boy’ is starting to not be self-conscious about his scars or his physical ability.”
Their ultimate goal to inspire more children to draw, color and share their wild and wacky ideas with the world. They hope that when children see their own drawings and ideas on the show, it will instill a sense of pride and acceptance.
“We want to get in with the hospitals and get it in front kids who are sick and are seeking an escape where they actually have a vested interest in the show versus viewing random YouTube videos,” their dad said. “The Go Go World is a place where children have a means of expressing their own individuality in a way that they don’t get in their normal daily lives. It’s an environment where no matter how crazy your idea may be, no matter how ‘weird’ your drawing looks—it’s beautiful in every way and has a place where it belongs. We hope that children who are out there struggling, whether it be from a disability, or some other hurdle—that they learn it does not define who they are.”
The family says the show has brought them together in a positive way and they consider it a “huge blessing.”
“Even on the bad days,” their father said, “no matter what is happening in the real world, our family can always go back to the Go Go world—where anything can happen.”