Here at Kidsburgh, we are on the hunt. We are scouring our city, chatting up our neighbors, monitoring our newsfeeds–looking for a very special type of Pittsburgher. The kind of person who selflessly devotes himself or herself to improving the lives of our city’s children. The kind of person who exemplifies the mission of Kidsburgh–to make Pittsburgh the best place on Earth to raise children. We like to call them Kidsburgh Heroes. And each month, we will be featuring one of these individuals to spread the word about their inspiring work.
Our first Kidsburgh Hero has earned the honor by both name and deed. Meet A. Mark Bedillion or Burgh Man–Pittsburgh’s very own superhero. Mark has taken his professional experience as a mental health worker and used it to create the persona of Burgh Man. His mission? To promote healthy lifestyles and address concerns facing Pittsburgh youth. And we think his work is fantastic. Here’s our interview with Mark:
Who is Burgh Man?
Burgh Man has a very special super power–the ability to change the course of children’s lives. He believes that if given the right tools, all Pittsburgh children can find their highest good and share it with the world. Together, they will create the next Pittsburgh–a place where thinkers and dreamers will realize their potential and build a society based on a foundation of love, self-respect and generosity.
Who is A Mark Bedillion?
Before I was Burgh Man, I was a mental health therapist and certified drug and alcohol counselor in Pittsburgh. I worked with many patient populations, including youth and adults with substance abuse issues, prison populations, victims of abuse, etc. My resume includes some well-known mental health programs in the city, including Whale’s Tale (now Family Links), where I was a Youth and Family specialist. I have also worked at Pittsburgh Black Action (now Tadisco), Light of Life Ministries and Renewal Treatment, Inc.
My experience working in the mental health system taught me an important lesson. We already have enough treatment facilities in America. Instead, we need to focus on prevention and education as early as possible with our youth.
Why were you inspired to become Burgh Man?
My 25-plus year career made me very sensitive to the “hurt” that exists in our society. As a therapist, I heard stories of abuse from women and children that would bring tears to anyone’s eyes. I talked to mothers and fathers whose children died from drug overdoses or senseless violence. I saw homeless people dying from exposure on the streets of our city.
I retired from clinical work and created Burgh Man to promote self-respect, respect for others and love and kindness for all. If we are going to stop the violence and self-destructive behaviors in our society, I know it has to begin with educating our youth. I discovered early in my career that many people are their own worst enemies. Burgh Man is trying to teach Pittsburgh youth to become their own best friend instead.
How is Burgh Man teaching Pittsburgh children this lesson?
I take a “holistic” approach when addressing the needs of our youth. I believe that a happy, loving, self-respecting child is nurtured across many dimensions in life–physical, psychological, emotional, social, spiritual, environmental, etc. As Burgh Man, I visit local schools and community events to teach children about healthy outlets across all of these dimensions. For example, when Burgh Man promotes physical health, I educate children about nutritious foods, the importance of rest, the need for exercise. I also teach kids about how to responsibly handle common stressors–like bullying, violence, substance abuse, etc. Finally, Burgh Man has his own comic book series, which helps inform youth about Pittsburgh’s proud history, healthy lifestyles and how to manage obstacles like bullying.
Why the superhero persona?
I think that superheroes resonate with all children. I hope that Burgh Man will inspire kids to pick up their own capes and masks and follow their imaginations for positive change in our city. There is a lot of power in just believing! If we can make children feel like superheroes for a while, maybe they can overcome some of the obstacles in their path. Eventually, they may be able to transcend difficulties they never thought possible.
What’s next for Burgh Man?
I’m never quite sure what’s next for Burgh Man, but he’s always open to new and exciting ideas. Creativity, education and intellect make Burgh Man tick. He will continue to carry his message of hope and health to the masses. Additionally, Burgh Man will promote Pittsburgh and its exceptional people through his comic books, burghman.com, Facebook, Twitter and anywhere people are living happy and healthy lifestyles.
When Mark Bedillion is no longer around, I hope that Burgh Man can stand on his own and continue to be a Pittsburgh icon.