As a lifelong journalist and public relations strategist, and as the father of two children, over the years, I’ve found a great sense of fulfillment when I’ve collaborated with remarkable individuals who have dedicated their lives to helping children. When one of these remarkable people, Dr. Linda Olson, invited me to join her in introducing the Calmkins™ To Calm Kids behavior program to the world, and to join her in writing a series of children’s books, I was thrilled. Now that Linda’s lifelong dream has become a reality, I’m more excited than ever!
The experience I bring to this great project is based on my 35-year career in the media. I began my career as a television journalist with CBS News in Washington, D.C. in the 1980s, during the Reagan administration, covering Congress and the White House. Often, the stories I covered for CBS News led me to focus on important issues affecting children, including education, poverty and homelessness. Growing up as the son of a newspaper editor also opened my eyes to the power of storytelling and how the media can help empower those who might otherwise “fall between the cracks” in society.
During the 20 years I spent as a television news producer, whether I was working for NBC’s “Today” show, CNN or ABC’s “Good Morning America,” my favorite stories always focused on projects that benefitted children in some way. These stories included a profile of “Communities In Schools,” a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to preventing at-risk youth from dropping out of school, and a volunteer program in St. Louis, Missouri that teamed senior citizens with first grade students to help boost the children’s self-esteem.
I remember how my own imagination was captured by books and stories when I was a child. My favorite children’s books included A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” and Hugh Lofting’s “Doctor Dolittle.” For more than 50 years, my favorite comic strip has been “Peanuts,” originally created by Charles Schulz. All of these books and stories featured a variety of engaging and entertaining characters, each of them with their own unique personality, offering young readers an insight into the world and the way people behave. These stories have inspired me, as I have collaborated with Dr. Olson, and I know that we would both be thrilled if the stories we have created featuring the Calmkins menagerie find their way into young readers’ hearts and imagination.
My longtime mentor in the news business, the late great Charles Kuralt, often said, “The very best thing any of us can do in life is to tell a child, ‘You’re the very best at … art, dancing, baseball, music’ … or whatever the case may be. That tells them that they are worth of attention and worthy of being celebrated, and this is so important in giving them the confidence we all need.
Over the past 15 years, my work in the public relations field has also often focused on projects helping children – including one project carrying on the message of a six-year-old boy who lost his life in the Sandy Hook, Connecticut shooting tragedy and another project dedicated to helping orphans in Haiti. It is an honor and a thrill to bring my experience to this extraordinary project!