‘Cowboy Ted’ still helping kids build coping skills through creative activities | ParkRecord.com

‘Cowboy Ted’ still helping kids build coping skills through creative activities

Former Arts-Kids head offers Park City programs

For information, visit cowboyted.com and cowboyted101.com
“Cowboy Ted” Hallisey leads a group of Park City kids through some roping exercises during a resilience-building session a few days ago. Hallisey is the former executive director of Arts-Kids and uses his Master’s degree in education, health and physical education, for suicide prevention programming.
Courtesy of Ted Hallisey

Although Arts-Kids, a youth-development nonprofit founded by the late Pat Drewry Sanger, is currently dormant, former Executive Director Ted Hallisey has been busy.

“Cowboy Ted,” as he is known, continues to host in-person and virtual programs through his Cowboy Ted’s Foundation for Kids organization that help suicide prevention amongst kids ages 3 to 8 by helping them build anti-bullying and resiliency skills.

Inspired by the number 8, which refers to the 8-second rides in rodeos, Hallisey recently firmed up his programming. The programs, which are available with unlimited access through cowboyted101.com, a subscriber website, include: 

  • More than 20 healthy tips for kids in audio and video formats
  • More than 30 “Cowboy Ted” art and recreation activity lesson plans
  • More than 20 classroom fitness videos, known as 3-minute “Brain Breaks”
  • Weekly Cowboy Ted 101 videos 
  • More than 12 online books that are offered in both English and Spanish
  • Monthly “Find Your Happy Place” animated features 
  • More than instructional kids’ fitness videos that clock in at 30-minutes each
  • Monthly “Barnyard Buddies” animated features for kids 

“These lesson plans were created by myself and other facilitators for the Arts-Kids program,” said Hallisey, who has a Master of Education degree in health, physical education and recreation. He has hosted school assemblies and other programs and resources for over 275,000 kids across the United States. “We co-copyrighted everything and put them into an easy-to-follow format that parents and educators can have access to. And we credit the lesson plans’ creators by names and year they created them.”

Each of these programs helps teach 8 steps to health and happiness, which, according to Hallisey, are:

  • Respecting parents that reinforce citizenship skills and self-efficacy
  • Leading a healthy lifestyle that includes learning about healthy choices, exercise, mental health and more
  • Working hard in school helps kids focus on self-confidence and determination
  • Being nice to others reduces bullying and emotional and physical fear in kids
  • Being kind to animals sets a pattern proven to reduce domestic abuse later in life
  • Setting goals is a concept that increases self-esteem and emotional well being
  • Avoiding substance abuse and showing prevention is better than treatment
  • Doing one nice thing for another person every day promotes emotional health

“I use the number eight, because it’s also the sign of infinity,” said Hallisey. “And I like to say there are no limits in the possibilities that kids can have.”

The Cowboy Ted’s Foundation for Kids uses an array of activities such as cup stacking to help children build self-esteem and resilience skills.
Photo by Dan Wells

In addition to the subscriber website, information about Cowboy Ted’s Foundation for Kids can be found by visiting cowboyted.com, which links back and forth with the cowboyted101.com.

The idea to create two websites was inspired by a quote from Walt Disney, “I don’t make pictures just to make money. I make money to make more pictures.” 

“We’re trying to get subscribers so we can offer more services,” Hallisey said. “We just want to be able to fund and add to what we offer.”

He is also seeking donations to help make the programs more accessible to the community.

“Donations will help us create scholarships or discounts for families who may not be able to afford the full prices,” he said. “We are also applying for a number of grants as well.”

The Cowboy Ted Foundation for Kids is currently offering in-person summer programming, led by Daniel Wells, McPolin Elementary School’s first-grade teacher, at Treasure Mountain Junior High School in Park City Mondays through Thursdays, according to Hallisey, who is on-site Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Two weeks ago we did stick-horse rodeo and cowboy day camps, and we have also examined how music and movement can change emotions and take you from being sad, frustrated and angry to at least feeling neutral or happy,” he said. “We’re also showing the kids how breathing techniques can help them find their happy place, because finding their happy place is the cornerstone of our whole program.”

The in-person programs are also available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming and will soon be available throughout the South, Hallisey said. 

A few weeks ago, Michelle Coleman Anderson, CEO and executive director of the Infinity Science Center in Gulfport, Mississippi, reached out to Hallisey and asked about collaboration options regarding her science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming.

“She is now on our board of directors, and I’m going to start doing things with the Science Center and digitally take her STEM stuff then add our recreation and art programs to make it STREAM.”

Getting these programs out to kids is Hallisey’s tireless mission.

“I think the kids really need this, because I know I did,” he said. “I felt the isolation during COVID when schools weren’t allowing us to come in for the groups, and it got to my mental and emotional state. I could only imagine the toll it took on the kids.”

Hallisey also said that Arts-Kids programming has not officially closed.

“It’s still available if anyone wants to start it up again,” he said.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.