The world could use a cup of kindness, so Lethbridge-based artist and writer Constance Douglas created “Kindling Kindness,” a program designed to help kids recognize their feelings and choose “love over fear” courtesy of the characters “Shnoogy” and “Krudy.”
“It‘s about making the world a better place one act of kindness at a time,” said Douglas, noting the characters’ origins go back several years.
“In 2006 I was in a children’s hospital in Phoenix and saw all of these sick kids. I wondered how I could represent love, so they could see it and demonstrate it, so I created Shnoogy,” Douglas said, noting Kindling Kindness is targeted at children aged 4-8.
“Then I created Krudy, who is just grumpy, lonely and not happy,” Douglas continued.
“They (people) have both those feelings but have to choose which one will be part of their experience,” she continued.
“Then, I became ill with MS and lost the ability to paint and I began to feel helpless like those kids. I had all of these blank canvasses and when I could paint again, it became my only purpose to help these kids,“ Douglas said, noting her paintings became the basis for Kindling Kindness, an adventure book “The Doodle Trap,” a workbook starring Shnoogy and his friends plus Krudy, which can be found on Kindle.
She also brings Shnoogy in to schools, has designed and created individualized capes for the characters and created stuffed animals of them. She even wrote a Shnoogy rap song to go along with the story, featuring local performer Juran Greene. “He was kind enough to record it and I’m working on an audio book with (New West Theatre veteran) Erica Hunt.”
She was born in Lethbridge and moved to the United States, living in Arizona and California and moved back to Lethbridge in 2015 to help care for a good friend who was diagnosed with cancer.
She even named her dog “Shnoogy.”
“I was wondering what to call this character and my last dog always wanted hugs. I was always telling him ‘Are you looking for your shnoogies?’ and it turned out to be the perfect name for the character,” she said. As she started bringing her story to the kids, Shnoogy and Krudy were an instant hit.
“I felt so much love,“ she said.
She observed it is important to recognize both negative and positive feelings.
“It is easy to hold on to Krudy feelings. Everybody has felt lonely and broken down and depressed. Everyone has their ‘Krudy’ days where your dog dies and you just feel like crying,” she said.
“We all have those struggles,“ she continued.
“I used to hold on to them, but when I let them go, I felt so much better,” she said, adding Kindling Kindness helps children recognize their feelings and how their actions impact others.
“I believe bullying is caused by a lack of self-esteem. By pushing others down, it helps build them up” she said, adding recognizing feelings and how they motivate them helps build that self-esteem.
Kindling Kindness also includes interactive challenges.
“We’ll talk about positive attributes and we ask them to perform 10 acts of kindness a day,” she said.
She noted she is available to bring Shnoogy to local schools and has been approved to have a booth at this year’s The Word on the Street festival.
More information about the program is online at The Doodle Trap book sample.