Coloring book by Arts-Kids and Cowboy Ted Foundation director provides kids steps to a happy life
“Cowboy Ted” Hallisey wants to give kids a leg up in life.
To that end, the Arts-Kids executive director and Cowboy Ted Foundation for Kids founder has published “Cowboy Ted’s Healthy Lifestyles Program: Eight Steps to Good Health and Happiness.”
The guide, available in physical or downloadable form, is offered in full color or as a coloring book, according to Hallisey.
“Cowboy Ted’s Healthy Lifestyles Program” centers around eight concepts:
• Respect parents
• Lead a healthy lifestyle, which includes proper nutrition and exercise
• Work hard in school
• Be nice to others
• Be kind to animals
• Set goals
• No drugs, tobacco or alcohol
• Do something nice for another person every day
“The guidelines are intended to, as we say at Arts-Kids, help kids find a happy place,” Hallisey said. “Our program is basically suicide prevention and teaches kids how to be resilient. And studies have shown that kids are less likely to fall into depression if they experience happy times. So we want them to have more happy times.”
The guide, which is illustrated by Craig Hayes, is an expansion of a school assembly Hallisey presented 20 years ago that covered emotional, mental and physical health.
“A friend of mine who was a principal asked me to talk about the Cowboy Ted program,” he said. “At that time I was only doing tobacco (prevention), and she told me to expand on that.”
Hallisey went home to write a plan, and came up with the eight steps.
“Eight is symbolic of the eight-second ride in rodeo, so I used the Cowboy persona to get the kids’ attention,” he said.
Hallisey has since centered his foundation on these eight steps, and recently applied them to Arts-Kids, a Summit County-based nonprofit that uses the performing arts to help children build confidence.
“The Arts-Kids board asked me to bring in the Cowboy Ted stuff, because we had decided these steps fit both organizations’ missions,” Hallisey said.
For the past few years, Hallisey, his son Nicko, who is a musician, and Nels Anderson, owner of Drum Bus, a musical nonprofit that utilizes percussion to boost self-esteem, have applied the eight steps into their workshops.
The idea to publish and distribute the books this year came after the Arts-Kids programming was put on hold due to the coronavirus.
“COVID hit and really threw us off course, but the work we do with the kids is so important that I wanted it to continue even though we weren’t getting together,” Hallisey said.
The books are currently available in English, and Hallisey is working with Miriam Garcia, program director for Holy Cross Ministries’ school readiness program, to get the books printed in both Spanish and English for students who come from Spanish-speaking households.
“Miriam said the books would benefit both parents and students, because while the kids know English, many of the parents don’t,” he said. “This way the books will also become a reading and teaching aid. The kids can go home and help their parents with English.”
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