The 501-c-3 Files from The Ashland Sneak Preview
By Adam and Sophia S.W. Bogle
She is hard to miss: Flaming red curls, flamboyant feathered hats, a huge smile and it is not unusual for her to have wings! Janai Mestrovich a.k.a. Grandma Boom is the head and heart of The Conscious Living Foundation (CLF). The CLF is dedicated to creating a world where children have the emotional tools to make good choices from the inside-out. I first met Janai at the Ashland Chamber of Commerce Greeters’ meetings where she regularly demonstrates her teaching methods. My favorite is the expandable rainbow sphere. She uses it to teach how to take a deep breath in order to calm yourself and it is very effective!
I met with Janai at the Breadboard and (while I ate my favorite pancakes) asked her about what made her so passionate about kids’ emotional health. She was ready for me with a couple of daunting statistics. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 50% of all children and youth in the U.S. right now suffer from some form of mental health issue and there is an eight to ten year lag between the onset and any treatment. Sadly, 75% of the cases are never resolved.
This great need is what drives Janai to get creative and do something about it. Her pioneering work advocates that all children deserve the right to learn self-help skills that strengthen their resiliency, confidence, self-control and mindfulness. Janai has developed and applied her program for over 40 years and has won several awards for her methods.
Locally, she teaches workshops around the Rogue Valley. She has done work with Lone Pine Elementary and Griffin Creek Elementary in Medford and the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program through the Jackson County Oregon Child Development Coalition. She also does a class to train parents and teachers.
The latest CLF project is called Empowering Superkids. “It is focused on using 3D tools that engage all the senses, like the expandable rainbow sphere, to teach young kids to know themselves in a way that creates health, happiness and self-accountability.” Here is the wonderful example she gave me of how she knows it works.
One day, after Grandma Boom had been working with a class of preschoolers, the teacher was getting frustrated and upset. One of the boys in the class noticed and started singing the “calming song” to her and the class joined in to help her calm down. “Calming, calming I’m calming myself (with soothing hand gestures). Breathing, slowly, I’m calming myself.” Just imagine! These little super-kids were able to recognize the emotion and they had the tools to help the teacher. I wish I had a Grandma Boom when I was growing up.
Another fact that Janai shared with me is that 85% of a child’s brain is developed by the age of five. That is why it is so important to get these tools to them as soon as possible. While Grandma Boom is making a difference here in the Rogue Valley, Janai is not satisfied with helping just a few kids. She wants to help all of them.
To that end, Janai and the CLF are doing everything they can to get the word out. She recently met with former State Representative, Peter Buckley who was very encouraging about the program. Apparently there are already programs that exist to help older kids with mental health but nothing out there for pre-K! With more funding, the CLF is dedicated to create the resources for teachers and parents all over the world to learn and teach these methods themselves. There is already a guidebook available on Amazon called the Superkid Power Guidebook as well as 6 other books that can be used with children to teach them these skills.
Their website: ConsciousLivingFoundation.us is currently under construction and will be up and running December 1st with a downloadable video series for parents, teachers and pre-K children. Meanwhile, just google Grandma Boom for more information. Janai offers Training Workshops, Private Sessions, Curriculum Development, Consultations and Speaking Engagements through the Conscious Living Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to be a part of this effort to help empower Superkids, send a donation to the CLF at P.O. Box 1201, Ashland, Oregon 97520. Everything helps!