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Koko And Friends: Born to Play-Destined to Win!

The Only Bugs You'll Wanna' Hug!

À propos du projet

Bullying among children in the target market is a serious problem that is rampant, widespread and pervasive with negative effects. The National Association of School Psychologists (2017) states that 20% of kindergarten students reported being bullied frequently; 33% of elementary students reported being bullied at school often; and the majority of students who are bullied never report it. Additionally, young children can have difficulty distinguishing between teasing and bullying. Several studies have established a connection between bullying and social exclusion to school shootings and youth violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control,suicide is the third leading cause of deathfor children ages 10 to 14. For every suicide, there are at least 100 suicide attempts.” Our goal is to reach 5- to 9-year-olds with age-appropriate social and emotional skills before bullying and group exclusion lead to thoughts of suicide or violence.

West states, "When my daughter was 8 years old, she attempted suicide due to bullying. She was broken, yet too young to express her feelings of fear, shame, loneliness, helplessness and hopelessness. In that moment, everything I thought was important wasn’t. Unable to find age-appropriate resources for her, I began making up stories about young bugs, like her, who the “cool” bugs picked on and bullied. Because she connected emotionally with Koko, I was able to enter her world, see things through her eyes and create “underdog” stories to pull her out of that dark place of no hope. This empowerment can only be done when children know how to act and react appropriately in peer group settings. They have to be given the toolsets they need to take ownership of their peer-group problems and taught problem-solving and conflict resolution skills to take control of the culture that creates and sustains bullying behaviors. Koko and his cousins face true-to-life scenarios and model the behaviors we aspire all our children to demonstrate when adults are not present. 

West further states, "I have talked to a dozen parents who have lost their children to suicide due to bullying. The only recurrent statement I hear is, 'I didn't see it coming!' Fortunately, I was able to see it before it happened. My goal is to give parents the knowledge base they need to ensure they talk to their children about bullying so they can proactively counter its fatal consequences. No child should ever feel so hopeless that death appears to be the only escape from their torment. No parent should ever have to bury their child. Koko is here to help parents have those awkward conversations with their children."

Koko, an acronym for “Keep On Keeping On!”, means— Never, ever, give up! The loveable characters will be “The Only Bugs You’ll Wanna’ Hug!!!”

À quoi va servir le financement ?

Funding is needed to produce and publish 500 32-page softcover books and 64-page activity books for children in the target market. These funds will be used to pay the graphics artist for illustrations and book layouts for both the softcover and activitity books and printing and binding 500 of each for sales. 

À propos du porteur de projet

Clara Denise West is the creator and owner of the Koko and Friends anthropomorphic characters; the President and C.E.O. of Koko and Friends Products, Inc. and the Founder and President of the Koko and Friends Foundation.

She develops edutainment products for children PreK-12. She has written books for parents on how to counter bullying among youth, presented community-wide anti-bullying seminars and workshops for the general public, and facilitated train-the-trainer workshops around the country for youth and parents on the sensitive social topics that cause youth to make wrong choices that can have unintended, and sometimes fatal, consequences.

She holds a Ph.D. degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Alabama-Huntsville, Huntsville, AL; Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alabama-Huntsville and Business and Security Management from Webster University, St. Louis, MO; and Bachelor degrees in Electrical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from the University of Memphis, Memphis, TN.

West is currently harnessing the power of edutainment through storytelling to write books, scripts, screenplays, and lyrical accompaniments that revolve around “A family of precocious grade-school bugs who confront bullying and the stigmas of being from ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ while pursuing their dreams of becoming all-star basketball players.” Her mission is to use her experiences from her daughter’s suicide attempt and social and emotional learning to create an awareness of and proactively countering antisocial behaviors among youth that lead to bullying and social exclusion. It’s all about being a catalyst for positive change and to save lives.


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