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Gimme Five: Talicia Tarver


Over the years, we’ve heard about many creative approaches to reaching children with nutrition education, and Talicia Tarver’s work definitely fits the bill. Talicia and her colleagues, Deidra Woodson and Nicholas Fechter, have written a new 66-page comic book called “The Amazing Captain Fit,” about a boy who dreams of being a superhero, but first needs to learn to take care of his own health. Read on to learn more about Talicia, and connect with her via her profile.

Name: Talicia Tarver
Title: Digital and Information Services Librarian
Organization: Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport

What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?

My co-investigators and I consulted with the head of our institution’s pediatrics department about what would be a good topic for a comic book. According to him, childhood obesity is such a serious concern for pediatricians that he felt that it would be the best choice.

How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?

I hope that by using comics, we are using a medium that appeals to children and adults alike. That way, the message gets across to the parents as well when they read the comic with their children. There is also a “Note for Parents” page at the back of the comic to refer them to more information on how to cook healthy meals, find activities to help children get enough exercise, and general wellness topics. The children will be drawn to the story (we hope) because the protagonist is like them: a kid who wants to be a hero when he grows up. Our main character wants to be like his favorite super hero, but has some unhealthy habits to overcome if he’s going to reach his goal. This comic outlines how he can do that in practical ways that also contribute to his community. So the overall goal is to “train the trainer.”

What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?

We’ve had several great stories about children who have read our comic and not only enjoyed it, but decided to eat better once they had finished the story. It’s gratifying to think that we were able to get a message across to children in a way that respects them and how they like to learn.

Who is your role model in your work?

I don’t have any one role model. So many of our physicians, nurses, teachers, librarians, comic book writers, illustrators, and an opera conductor served as our cheerleaders and mentors for this project. A note about the opera conductor: this was an individual who had used comic books as a teaching tool to help children learn about opera. Once I had heard about his project, I spoke to him at length about how he created the comic, and it really helped me understand how to conduct my own project.

What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?

I admit that has always been a challenge. But baby carrots have always come to the rescue when I needed a healthy snack that I liked.

What game or sport did you play growing up?

Swimming was always my favorite thing to do. It still is, though I don’t get out on the water nearly as much as I would like.

Each week, our own Prarthana Gurung speaks with a Leader to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Prarthana’s profile and contact her.