Chuck Stump & Jim Strawn
Strawn and Stump
Jim Strawn (center) and Chuck Stump autograph copies of their book for (l to r) Cheryl Rust, Glen Clark and Wanda Robertson.
Attitude lessons provided for 'children of all ages'

July 15, 2008

There is a teenage suicide every ninety minutes in the United States, Jim Strawn told Putnam Rotarians today, a tragic indicator of the rising tide of depression among young people.

The materials available to teachers, counselors and teachers are few and far between said Chuck Stump who co-authored with Strawn a "motivational" book for children last October.

"We wanted to inspire kids to develop positive attitudes," said Strawn. "We wanted to help children develop strong attitudes in citizenship, caring, responsibility, fairness, service, confidence and optimism."

The book combines lyrics rich in traditional American folk wisdom with topical photographs of animals: A seal is pictured with "ice water in your veins" for courage. "But, Dad, that's a seal!" Stump's son told him. "He lives in ice water!"

One verse reads ---

When you think a thought that isn't nice,
It's best to bite your tongue.
This keeps the thought inside your head
And damage from being done.

The thirty or so photos in Strawn and Stump's book illustrate "body language" and facial expressions that convey attitudes, and the book's format suits a broad variety of learning situations -- "on the playground and in the classroom."

Their working title had been The Anatomy of Your Attitude, but a publishing consultant exclaimed, "You're writing a book for children, and you have two words with Greek roots in the title." So they settled on the sad mad glad book as a publication name.

Three thousand copies off the presses in October were sold out by Christmas, and a second printing of 5,000 is nearly exhausted.

Although the Legislature mandated character education in 2001 for all grade levels, resources are in short supply. The sad mad glad book is for the early grades -- "and for adults who have guts to read it," says Strawn. A second book is in the works for middle school students and due for publication in late September.

Publication and distribution of sad mad glad is through Four Dolphins Press. "It's a West Virginia publication in all ways," said Strawn. "It was written here, published here, and distributed here. We haven't farmed any of it out to China -- yet."

Strawn believes attitude and character are learned, just like academics. "We need to reach kids earlier," he said. "If we succeed, then in twenty years or so we will do Chuck out of his job" -- counseling adults suffering with clinical depression.

If you listen to your elders,
You'll succeedd in fewer tries.
They've been down the road you travel,
And their mistakes have made them wise.

Strawn is Director of Marketing and Community Education at Highland Hospital and a past president for the Mental Health Association in the Greater Kanawha Valley.

Chuck Stump is a consultant and lecturer whose client list includes organizations such as, Verizon, McDonald's, St. Mary's Hospital, Dow Chemical, City National Bank, and Mountain State Blue Cross / Blue Shield.

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