MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Memphis man, who has already inspired thousands of students with creative outlets, is looking to his next project called The Hero Empowerment Center.
LaDell Beamon hopes it can be like a Disneyworld to Memphis.
An empty space in Hickory Hill near Winchester and Ridgeway Road will be home to the new center for kids.
The inspiration behind the Hero Empowerment Center is a comic book hero created by a Memphis author and graphic designer.
“Just like Superman has his Fortress of Solitude, Wake has to have his hangout spot,” Beamon said.
About a decade ago Beamon created Wake -- a Black superhero living in Memphis. His high school classmate and now owner of Memphis' Maw Productions, Martheus Wade, illustrated Beamon’s creation.
“It was important to keep that hopeful fire,” Wade said.
“We decided to create images the kids could relate to in the form of a superhero,” Beamon said.
But Beamon has been inspiring local students with art even before Wake.
He’s the founder of the Heal the Hood Foundation of Memphis which goes into schools to help students use the arts as a creative outlet. The Hero Empowerment Center is the next step for the Foundation.
“I probably would’ve been so geeked. I’d be out of my body [to see the Hero Empowerment Center as a kid],” Beamon’s mentee Tracy Almo said.
Almo knows what the arts can do for someone. He says Beamon and Heal the Hood heard him rapping at the lunch table one day and started a conversation. Almo said Beamon encouraged his love of music and helped him find a job after high school.
The Hero Empowerment Center will feature images of Wake, but it’s also going to have a 4-D theater and urban rooftop garden among many things. Experts in their fields will also mentor the kids who visit.
“We’ll do comic book training, have illustration classes,” Wade said.
“LaDell knows how to put it. He’s a great leader,” Almo said.
Beamon is looking for a 2021 groundbreaking. Eventually the full project will create a $50 million investment in the community.
“We’re going to invite other heroes which are these kids and become great influencers in the world,” Beamon said.