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Family First

St. Louis counselors’ book for kids teaches mental wellness techniques and compassion for others

Kids joining hands together

Photo by Getty Images

Licensed professional counselor Christine Corrigan Mendez realized mid-pandemic that families and children were struggling with educational, social and day-to-day needs.

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“I thought about the fear of illness and COVID cases in families, sometimes leading to loss, and the resulting emotional issues kids would carry with them,” she says. These thoughts inspired Mendez to create a children’s book series offering tools to help kids cope with a variety of social and emotional challenges.

She invited Jen Monika McCurdy, her graduate school friend and counseling colleague at CCM & JMM Wellness LLC in St. Louis, to collaborate on the project, and the duo developed the characters who populate their first book in the Kids Can Club series, “Clementine Gets UNSTUCK!”

We decided our children’s book series would be a children’s fiction and wellness book combination, with elementary school-aged characters experiencing problems that kids in real life experience too,” Mendez says of the new release. “The characters really show that kids can. They are empowered. They can actively choose and effect change, which shows agency. And they relate to others’ feelings, which demonstrates empathy.”

The story follows Clementine and her friends as she struggles with “zipping, zinging, tangling thoughts” and learns a breathing technique to help calm her mind. The associated Kids Can Club website, kidscanclub.com, provides additional resources, such as printable wellness tool sheets and information on how kids can start their own Kids Can Club.

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According to the website, the Kids Can Club “is a helping group for kids, supported by the participation of trusted adults like parents, teachers and counselors. In the club, we find fun and creative ways to help other kids, animals, the environment and even grownups! And we learn how to help ourselves when we face challenges … ”

“We have such a vibrant community, full of warmth and innovation,” McCurdy says. “We hope that the Kids Can Club will provide another way to work together and support mental health, kindness and compassion to ourselves and others.”

The pair plans to release a new book each year, illustrated by Dana Regan, and provide fresh website content more frequently. Mendez says that featuring “mini stories” on the website will “allow us to address many more children’s issues, respond to society crises that occur and also explore holidays, seasons and kids’ experiences related to these.”

Kids joining hands together

Photo by Getty Images

The writers plan to employ numerous therapeutic tools and approaches throughout the series – breathing, relaxation and mindfulness techniques – and hope that participating adults will also discuss and practice these tools with the children in their lives. “We believe children can learn they are not alone with their feelings,” Mendez says. “And they can take action to help themselves and others.”

“Clementine Gets UNSTUCK!” is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookBaby Bookshop, Target, Left Bank Books and additional retailers.

Kids Can Club, kidscanclub.com

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Connie, a native of St. Charles and graduate of the MU School of Journalism, is a freelance writer and editor who contributes to print and online publications for clients throughout the region. She enjoys travel, hiking, kayaking and drinking good coffee

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