Community / Press Release

EMSB psychologist shares debut children’s book with Dante students

dante students and staff
Montreal - Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Students at Dante Elementary School in St-Leonard were in for a special treat recently when school psychologist Melissa Velandia gave a reading of her first children’s book Mister Grum Learns to Chill: A story about learning coping skills when experiencing big emotions.

The reading was held in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month, commemorated throughout the month of May.  This book, published last month, tells the story of Mister Grum, who is upset and experiencing overwhelming feelings. The character is able, however, to eventually calm down, as he is introduced to various coping skills aimed at helping him relax.

“I wanted to give children a tool to know the different options and learn what coping skills work for them,” said Ms. Velandia. “We can learn coping skills anytime, but the sooner the better. They can prevent major issues in the future, such as depression and anxiety. If they start using these strategies early, it can prevent the stressors from happening.”

Ms. Velandia says the story also demonstrates the importance of perseverance and being empathetic towards those dealing with strong emotions.

“I wanted to look into the body language and how it is important to recognize how other people are feeling just by looking at their facial expressions,” she said. “Friendships and having a trustful adult they can turn to when they have issues is also really important.”

After the reading, students took part in an interactive activity where they wrote and drew what makes them feel better when they, themselves, are feeling strong emotions. “Many drew hockey, basketball or gymnastics or other relaxing activities such as yoga, playing guitar, or playing Monopoly,” she said.

The book’s release has also prompted many other children from around the world to share their drawings of Mister Grum or of themselves doing activities that make them feel happy or relaxed. Some of these drawings have been shared on the book’s official Instagram page (@mistergrumbook).

Mister Grum Learns to Chill: A story about learning coping skills when experiencing big emotions is available for purchase on Amazon.  

Melissa reading book

About the English Montreal School Board

With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 73 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at www.emsb.qc.ca.

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