(AP) — A Brazilian policeman in the mountain city of Petrópolis has been donning a Captain America costume and riding out on his motorcycle to help educate children on the importance of wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
45-year-old Military Police Sergeant Everaldo Pinto bought the costume to entertain his own children, who are fans of the superhero.
Shortly after, the pandemic struck Brazil, Pinto started posting pictures on social media playing at home with his kids, with all three wearing Captain America costumes.
After other parents asked him to send messages to their children, Everaldo began sending all kinds of messages of support, from messages to children with autism to birthday messages.
- 12-year-old motorcycle crash survivor makes miraculous recovery
- WKRG News 5 wins two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards
- 2nd annual Unity Ride bringing bikers, law enforcement together
- Wyoming jury awards $2M to widow, daughter for biker crash
- Car enthusiasts travel to causeway for big event this weekend
Then came the idea in the beginning of 2021 to use his alter-ego to teach local children the importance of wearing a mask and hand sanitizing against COVID-19 in a playful way.
He started ordering Captain America themed masks and hand sanitizers bottles with his own money and scheduled visits to surprise young ones during his free time.
Pinto also started visiting children who had lost a loved one to COVID-19.
The word spread, and parents from all over the region sent him messages to surprise their kids and teach about safety measures, adding up to 30 children per month.
“The kids are an extension of myself, an extension of Captain America that supervises the safety procedures inside his home,” says Pinto, adding that after doing social work for more than 30 years, bringing the Captain America character in the community was a natural fit.
Parents in the area love that Captain America helps them talk about the difficult subject with their children.
“It is not enough that we, who are at home (with the kids), say it, sometimes they (the children) do not obey. And with him (Captain America), it’s a playful way to get their attention and teach (about COVID-19 safety measures). I’m sure they will now follow the safety recommendations,” 19-year old Taiane Lima said after a visit of the superhero to her street.
Pinto says he sees about 50 children a week, straining his budget and time since he pays for the outreach out of his own pocket.
But he says the looks on the faces of the children make it all worth the cost and effort.
Pinto says he hopes the pandemic will pass soon, but he has no plans to retire Captain America anytime in the near future, because he notes the superhero is a good way to reach children with many important messages about life.