Cartoon superheroes show signs of life


Children around the globe are to ‘click’ with characters from a North East comic book.

A healthy living comic created by Northumbrian Water and NHS North East will soon be seen by families in 87 different countries worldwide at the press of a mouse.

The adventure, titled ‘Are you fit for life?’, is the first comic book to be turned into an animated production for a children’s online library, It will be available to view from Monday, November 9 2009.

In this exciting edition of Northumbrian Water’s H2O Gang comic series, cartoon superheroes sign up to Change4Life, to educate young people about eating well, moving more and living longer.

The adventure has been produced in sign language with English audio to be accessible for both deaf and hearing children. More than 34,000 deaf children in the UK often miss out on storytime because they struggle to understand English language books.

‘Are you fit for life?’ will be viewed by children as far away as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, where British Sign Language is used.

Malcolm Wright, managing director of ITV SignPost, said: “We’re delighted to offer our Signed Stories website as a platform for good advice for every child.

“Hundreds of thousands of children worldwide will be able to enjoy this new animated adventure. It’s a great way of delivering important messages in a fun, accessible form. We hope more organisations will follow Northumbrian Water and NHS North East’s pioneering lead.”

Claire Riley, director of communications for NHS North East, said: “We are always looking for innovative ways to spread the word about the importance of healthy living.  We need to be creative about how we engage with children and young people and, by adapting the Change4Life messages in this way, we hope to reach as many as possible and bring the characters alive for them.”

Louise Hunter, head of corporate responsibility at Northumbrian Water, said: “Northumbrian Water developed the H2O gang comic series to help our younger customers understand how important water is for life, health and the environment in a fun, creative and appealing way.

“We’re thrilled that modern technology has allowed us to develop the latest comic, the sixth in the series, into a visual adventure that both deaf and hearing youngsters can enjoy.”

Around 30,000 children in the North East will be targeted by the healthy living campaign, with comics to be distributed to primary schools, doctors’ waiting rooms and children’s hospital wards.

Parents, families and children can sign up to healthier lifestyles at

The H2O Gang make learning about the world of water fun, through school visits, an interactive
CD-ROM, a series of comics and they also feature on Northumbrian Water’s website, The gang’s arch enemies, Dr Dry, and his henchman, Drip, are evil and want to rule the world by stealing or wasting all water.  It is up to the ‘H2O Gang’ to stop them!

Previous adventures in the H2O Gang series can be viewed or downloaded from Northumbrian Water’s website, at

For further information:

Contact Leanne Clough of Northumbrian Water on 0191 301 6733:
• for more information on the H2O gang comic series.
• to arrange interviews with Louise Hunter, head of corporate responsibility at Northumbrian Water.

Contact Julie Marsh of NHS North East on 0191 210 6464:
• for more information on Change4Life.
• to arrange interviews about the health and wellbeing of children in the North East.

Contact Adelle Hopper of Signed Stories on 0844 881 5220:
• for more information on Signed Stories.
• to arrange interviews with Malcolm Wright, managing director ITV SignPost and Joseph Sheridan, Deaf Team Manager ITV SignPost.

Notes to Editors

Signed Stories is a £1.5million, free online library of children’s books, available to view in sign language and English. The site was launched in 2008 to give all the family, both deaf and hearing, the opportunity to share the enjoyment of storytelling.

Signed Stories was developed by a team of deaf and hearing professionals at ITV SignPost, a centre of excellence for multi-platform BSL access.

There are more than 8.9 million deaf and hard of hearing adults and more than 34,000 deaf children in the UK.

Many people who are born deaf or are deafened early in life use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate. It is estimated that BSL is the first and preferred language of more than 70,000 deaf people in the UK.

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