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“Stories from the Heart” 2011 Winner

January 19, 2012. By

Gene’s Anger Chills

Written by Katy Bourne

Katheryn submitted this story, which was chosen at random among the many different stories of change and growth we received in 2011. As a winner, she won a limited-edition 124-page Oodles of Doodles activity book, not available anywhere else!

13-year-old Gene was having a rough time. With an absent father and a mother who was only in his life now and then, Gene was left to live in poverty with his grandmother. Although he was popular kid with a class clown persona, he had difficulty managing his anger. This resulted in discipline problems at school. He was kicked out of school several times. He began experimenting with pot.

Gene received his first copy of Chill & Spill while attending a summer program. He received a second copy through a boy’s group at his school. According to his caseworker Kathryn, Gene was not the type of boy who was usually open to therapeutic activities. He was a “cool” kid. These types of things were “stupid.” However, Gene was open to working with Chill & Spill.  The group dynamic and the presence of a trusted counselor gave Gene a structure for approaching the activities in the book. Within its pages, he found a creative outlet to express his feelings. He also found a quiet space to simply sit with his thoughts. Instead of deflecting with jokes and sarcastic comments, Gene started to develop positive coping mechanisms to help him deal with his emotions. Although he enjoyed all of the prompts in Chill & Spill, Gene found “How I See Myself, How I Want to be Seen and How Others See Me’ to be particularly insightful in helping him understand some of his own behavior.

During the time that Gene worked with Chill & Spill, his behavior improved and his school suspensions decreased. His new-found coping strategies enabled him be more successful and to pursue his love of basketball.

In the words of his caseworker Kathryn, “Gene learned how to not let his behavior interfere with his dreams.”