All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

Hoping to provide COVID weary kids with some much needed support, a local mother-and-son duo’s passion project is finding success.
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Tracey and Everett Wiley created Cool Kids Collective as a way to manage school stress, boost kids’ confidence and navigate COVID-related anxiety.

Cool Kids Collective
Instagram: @thecoolkidscollective_
Etsy: Cool Kids Collective Affirmation Cards


What would it be like to get a daily pep talk to help you through your day? Your own personal Ted Lasso to coach life’s ups and downs? A pre-game Drew Brees warmup chant every morning?

That’s what the new, locally created Cool Kids Collective strives to do not only for school-age children, but for parents, educators and community members looking to deliver a little pick-me-up with big impacts.

Launched in March 2022, Cool Kids Collective, a set of inspirational affirmation cards, is the creation of Tracey Wiley and her 9-year-old son Everett. The brightly colored deck of cards carries a different message of empowerment and encouragement, stemming from Everett’s own need to navigate school, remote learning and the stresses of the pandemic.

After witnessing the struggles that Everett was having, Wiley and her kids started a daily routine of positive reinforcement, creating mantras such as, “I am loved,” “I am a smart kid,” “I will turn my dreams into reality” and “I have so much to offer the world.”

Wiley turned her family’s routine into a set of affirmation cards and Cool Kids Collective was launched with the mission to “help kids release their inner superhero with the power of positive thinking.”

“Everett and I had a pretty good idea of how we wanted these cards to look,” said Wiley. “We knew we wanted them to be colorful and fun.

Everett wanted them to have a superhero feel, so we sketched up an idea, found a designer and Cool Kids were born,” Wiley said. “I found an online printing company to execute the creation. Cool Kids is 100% self-funded.”

Cool Kids is truly a family business, with Tracey and Everett teaming up to complete orders.

“Right now, this is a one-woman show. When we receive an order, I am the one printing the labels. If Ev is around, he is the one responsible for packing the cards up and getting them ready for me to drop them off at the post office. He is very involved in the process.”

The first run of decks was an immediate success and sold out almost immediately on the business’s Etsy page, according to Wiley.

“The launch was such a success and took us by surprise when we sold out in two days,” she said. “Everett and I were floored by the positive response. Since the launch, things slowed down a bit, but the sales have been consistent.”

Wiley’s creation is founded on the power of affirmations, which have been proven in multiple psychological research to be useful in decreasing stress, increasing academic achievement, and even creating positive physical habits such as eating more fruit and vegetables.

Affirmation cards, and self-help books, are indeed on trend and continue to be big business as communities emerge from COVID-19 restrictions. According to a July 2021 report from Publisher’s Weekly, “Adult nonfiction unit sales rose 15.6% in the first half of the year, driven by increases across most subcategories. Sales of self-help books had the largest gain, up 32.1%.” With a quick Google search online, one can find affirmation cards designed specifically for people who like unicorns, artistic decks that emphasize dreams, funny cards with swear words, and on and on.

Cool Kids Collective takes this power of positivity and tailors it to youth.

“Our target audience is honestly any adult looking to make a positive impact in a child’s life,” said Wiley. “I know that sounds cliché, but we feel any kid can pick these cards up and feel uplifted and inspired. Now, the design is definitely geared toward a younger demographic, but the messages are for anyone. When Everett and I came up with Cool Kids Collective, the idea wasn’t just for parents. We were creating a tool for educators, social workers and mental health professionals to hopefully use.”

The impact of creating the Cook Kids Collective cards has been huge for Wiley as an entrepreneur and a leader, but also for co-creator Everett, and the entire family.

“Watching something that [Everett] had a big hand in creating be received so well by friends and strangers has shown him that his ideas and thoughts matter,” Wiley said. “For me, it’s reassurance that I am doing exactly what I was called to do, inspire others. My children are always watching my husband and I, who is also an entrepreneur. It’s very important that we show our kids what hard work and determination look like.”

While the cards are currently available exclusively online, Wiley hopes to expand.

“Cool Kids Collective is a movement,” she said. “We are dedicated to helping and inspiring kids to unleash their inner superheroes with the power of positive thinking. To do that, we can’t just be online. The next move is to get [these cards] into major retailers and schools.”

 


COVID-19 impacts on kids’ mental health

American Psychological Association 2022 Trend Report:

“Mental health crises are also on the rise. From March 2020 to October 2020, mental health–related emergency department visits increased 24% for children ages 5 to 11 and 31% for those ages 12 to 17 compared with 2019 emergency department visits, according to CDC data.”

“In a 2020 survey of 1,000 parents around the country facilitated by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, 71% of parents said the pandemic had taken a toll on their child’s mental health, and 69% said the pandemic was the worst thing to happen to their child.”


 

Ways to support kids’ mental health, according to National Association of School Psychologists

Create a sense of belonging.
Promote resilience.
Teach and reinforce positive behaviors and decision-making.
Encourage helping others.
Encourage good physical health.
Ensure access to school-based mental health supports.
Provide a continuum of mental health services.