Kimochis: A Dream of Ending School Violence
“There are very specific moments in one’s life when an event can change the way you look at the world,” says creator, Nina. “For me, that moment was the unthinkable and haunting Columbine High School incident. I asked myself, ‘Why did this happen? What are we doing wrong? How can our children be so disconnected and self-destructive? And what can I do about it?”
This inspiration led Nina to create Kimochis. Nina, a family entertainment professional and executive producer of Despicable Me, knew that kids respond to characters and stories, so she reached out to her friend in children’s publishing, Susan Greenwood Schroeder.
Susan grew up in a community where a 15 year-old girl was killed by another teen girl. Bullying and social competition were parts of the tragic story. Because her own daughter had just started school when Nina shared her idea, Susan was able to imagine how Kimochis in schools could help kids learn how to communicate and connect with peers even through difficult and emotionally charged situations. So, Susan reached out to the magical communication expert who regularly visited her daughter’s elementary school, Ellen Pritchard Dodge.
For over 20 years, Ellen, a pioneering speech-language pathologist, was getting out of her office and teaching communication skills to more than just the children on her caseload. Ellen knew that feelings fuel behaviors. And, she saw first-hand that teaching basic communication skills helped children express challenging feelings which, as a result, eliminated a lot of negative behaviors—throughout entire schools. When Ellen started working with Kimochis as the Educational Director and Curriculum Author, the dream of helping children and families, grew to encompass entire school districts, communities…our world.
She is a recognized leader in character education and communication skills in the classroom. Ellen has published numerous books and articles in the area of social emotional learning. Her interactive workshop style and effective communication strategies and passion for raising children’s social and emotional intelligence makes her a sought-after speaker. Ellen has extensively taught in public schools in Northern California where her communication curriculum won a National Character Education award. Ellen, with Dr. William Pollack, author of Real Boys, collaborated to create classrooms that are academically and socially engaging for boys through Supporting Our Sons. In 2013, Ellen served on Parenting Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board. In 2014, Kimochis was awarded a five-year contract to provide training and support materials for Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools in the Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS) system where Ellen is the lead trainer.