Dressed in red high-top tennis shoes, and a red shirt emblazoned with a golden capital “S,” Safety Scout – a blue raccoon – is the newly commissioned mascot for the Division of Safety Education and Outreach, part of the IU School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
The adorable raccoon beat out cats, dogs, squirrels, rabbits and even a skunk vying for the role of safety mascot.
Scout is the creation of Herron School of Art and Design junior Trisha Mason, one of 10 illustration and drawing students who presented preliminary concepts for potential mascots at the urging of foundation studies professor Vance Farrow. All 10 had previously tackled some character design as students in Herron associate professor Kathleen O’Connell’s Illustration II course.
Safety Education and Outreach Director Susan Stanley said her division has wanted a mascot for a number of years. She turned to Herron, also part of the IUPUI campus, for help after designs submitted from professional illustrators didn’t capture the essence needed.
The mascot character needed to be gender neutral, expressive, cute and cuddly. It needed a wardrobe, too, including de rigueur items like a bike helmet and life jacket. It also needed to appeal to parents, but especially to children in a broad age range — because accidents are the leading cause of death in children ages one to 14.
Mason’s choice of a raccoon as a mascot sprang from personal experience. “We had a little raccoon family living under our porch in Mooresville,” Mason said.
As for Scout’s blue fur and red clothing, “I was drawing from different superheroes,” Mason said. “I got the color scheme from Superman.”
Developing the mascot is Mason’s first paid art job. Images of Scout will appear on the safety brochures, flyers and other resources the division distributes by mass mailings and during community events throughout Indiana with the focus on preventing accidental injuries to children and seniors.
The safety education and outreach unit annually distributes 30,000 pieces of literature on various topics, including bike, outdoor, water and fire safety. Scout will appear on Riley Red Wagon series material which is available in English and Spanish.
Users can also download copies of safety literature from the IU School of Medicine Safety Store website .
Scout is scheduled to make his first appearance on safety literature in early 2016, and could later make the transition to a costumed character.