It’s funny how one simple thing can catapult you into your purpose! My name is Dena Coukoulis and I filmed a video on December 2016 that went viral!
In the video, I'm surprising my son with a Beagle puppy we named Willa. My son Peter served 4 years in the United States Marines and spent seven months in Afghanistan. The reason for giving my son Willa was to help with his PTSD. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder plagues our Veterans after coming home and dogs have proven to be very successful in their recovery. Since my video, it has become clearer that I had to do something more. I decided to write a children’s book that would spread the healing powers of animals but also teach the importance of starting the conversation regarding mental health with children.
Inspiration for children's book It's A Willa World
Through my own personal experience, I realized that once my son started communicating with us he started to feel better! While my book is in the early stages of publication, Willa and I visited our first elementary school to talk about mental health. We also made a personal appearance on Veterans Day at Heart and Soul Tallahassee. What an amazing group of people!
Through these visits, I had an epiphany! A group of third graders made it apparent to me what the ultimate message of It’s A Willa World should be! If you're feeling sad about something, if you're feeling sad about nothing at all, it’s okay to talk to someone about it. You can talk to your mother, father, and even your teacher! There are a lot of people that care about your happiness. If we start with children maybe this could be a part of the solution! In a world where mental health is urgently in need of being addressed, I believe I've found a platform to make that possible.
I've met so many people willing to help me spread the word on how important it is to discuss mental health. I had the honor of being a guest on the Get Up Nation Podcast, where I shared the mission behind It's A Willa World. I continue to be inspired by Max the Blue Jay and definitely share his passion for being kind.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram @itsawillaworld, you won’t be disappointed! And remember to....” Be The Face of Kindness”
Special Thanks To Guest Blogger
Dena Coukoulis, Mental Health Champion and
Author of It's A Willa World