From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share their tips and strategies that have helped them achieve a successful self-publishing journey. The following are the words of Wendy Cullum, author of “Project Self Esteem: For Kids
,” which supports her mission of raising self esteem and preventing bullying.
I have always loved children. When I was a teenager, I wrote in my journal that I would have ten kids, and I even wrote their names. I babysat every weekend. When I got married I was fortunate enough to have four beautiful children. My husband and I practiced attachment parenting, including co-sleeping, and I was their first pre-school teacher. Naturally when they started elementary school, I wanted to volunteer in any program available. One such program at the school intrigued me. It was called Project Self-Esteem. Of course I signed up to teach it in my child’s class. It was a program where a parent volunteer taught one lesson once a month in their child’s class. The lesson’s subjects introduced core values to the class.
I taught the program for 12 years. The program was good, but I felt that a few things were lacking. It seemed a little dated, so I started my search for more relevant and entertaining material to add. Three years ago the school decided to drop the program because the content of the lessons were stale. This was a program that I believed in and was having success on my own with more updated materials. I knew that its potential was great and I saw how it made an impact on the lives of the children who participated in it.
I asked if I could rewrite the program and I was given the opportunity. It took me three years to perfect it. I would teach a lesson and test the content to see what worked well and kept the kids interested. The lesson subjects are wisdom, individuality, cooperation, compassion, self-discipline, honesty, gratitude, forgiveness, kindness, uniqueness, respect, determination, joy, humility, courage and friendship. Each lesson has a discussion about the topic, story and object lesson.
On my journey collecting content for the object lesson on friendship, I met an interesting woman on an airplane. I told her I was writing a book and what it was about. She then relayed a story that I ended up adding to the book, and it has become one of my favorites. The lesson involves placing a large piece of butcher paper, cut out in the shape of one of your student’s silhouette, on the chalkboard. We call the Silhouette “Our friend Bob”. I tell the students that they are feeling bad about themselves, so they want to put down their friend Bob. Each student comes up to the front with a pencil and writes a mean put down somewhere on the silhouette.
They then tear off the portion where they wrote and take it back to their seat. When everyone has completed this task, there shouldn’t be much of Bob remaining. I ask the students, “How does Bob look now”? They literally tore him apart with their put downs. It is time to make amends, so each student erases their put down and writes a positive complement. They then bring back their piece of Bob to put him back together. In the end, Bob is whole again. But he doesn’t look the same anymore. I teach the students that although he is back in one piece, he has cuts or tears now. This represents how negative put downs can hurt a person deep inside. You can say you are sorry, but your harsh words will always leave a mark. They should always think before they say something unkind. Because it will have a lasting affect.
When kids have low self-esteem, they resort to treating others poorly. Topics like bullying and ways to deal with anger are discussed. 56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school, and 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking or having eating disorders. Facts like these are and were astonishing to me, and are a major motivation for me in writing my book .
The parent volunteers that participate in teaching the lessons learn just as much as the students that they are teaching. One parent reported saying, “I taught the lesson for PSE on Joy. Thank you so much for a great lesson. I went to teach it to the kids and left the classroom so encouraged and full of joy because I couldn’t help but to understand the topic. The kids enjoyed all of the activities, and he had such a fun time. It just doesn’t impact the children, it was an amazing and timely reminder for me as well”.
The purpose of this journey is to reach the children with the message. Upon completion of one year, students often communicate their feelings back to their instructor. Here are a few examples of what they had to say. “I love PSE because it makes me want to be a better person”. “In PSE you taught me how to respect myself and others”. “The lesson I loved the most is humility. It taught me to be more humble”. “My favorite part of PSE was Spotlight”. My goal is to bring this program, Project Self-Esteem for kids, and it’s important message to all schools in America. If it just reaches one child, I have been successful.
– Wendy Cullum 8/28/14
WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.