Jeni Davenport is a health and wellness professional with over 20 years of experience working with young people of all ages in all seasons of life through a multitude of tough marathon moments. Jeni studied at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville receiving her Master’s degree in Health Science, Community Health Education and holds National Board Certification in Health and Wellness Coaching, and National Certification in Health Education, Personal Training, and Exercise Instruction.
She is an accomplished Group Commander for the United States Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol overseeing opportunities for young people ages 12 and up to develop their leadership, emergency services, and aerospace education skills. She is a former foster mom and a mother of three amazing children. Jeni has influenced thousands of children and families over the past two decades through her career and community service.
Kind Words: The Glue That Helps Keep Us Together is her first children’s picture book debut. Jeni has a heart for others and supports positive change one conversation, one person, and one community at a time. When not engaged in her work, Jeni can be found out in nature backpacking and discovering the outdoors.
1) Tell us who should read this book.
“Although it is a children’s picture book designed for the Kinder through 5th grader, EVERYONE should read this book. We all need to hear, especially during these times in our world, that kindness is everywhere when you really look around. However, if you are experiencing unkind and mean language in your life that is directed at you: you are not alone, it is not your fault, and it is okay to ask for help.”
2) Why did you write this book?
“I wrote this book to give families and teachers and counselors a tool to open up conversations with young people about unkind and mean language that may be happening at home. After being a foster parent and then later going through a difficult divorce, I found it necessary to explain to my children that tough stuff happens and sometimes mean things are said to them or their loved ones. And to remember that they are not at fault and they are not alone. Sometimes even grown-ups need help.”
3) Do you plan to write more books?
“Yes, I am finishing up several similar books both for elementary and high school ages that will help facilitate discussion around family and peer relationships and how to process tough topics. We need more preparation to face these events or help their friends face them. We need to learn how to handle situations that may be difficult in a positive and empowering way. I am especially concerned about our young people’s mental health and want to provide a venue to talk about feelings and teach skills around unhealthy relationships.”
4) What are some of the tough topics that young people face now a days?
“Depending on the ages, we are still seeing the usual challenges of young people, but what I want to focus on in my books and workshops are compassion for others and for yourself; interpersonal relationship skills; healthy boundaries both at school and at home; and life skills that will navigate them into healthy, strong, and respectful relationships both at home, at school, and into their dating life. We all need to be reminded that we deserve to be treated with kindness and we are worthy of love and respect. Mental health concerns in this age group are a real concern. Teaching interpersonal skills and healthy boundaries starts at home and then can continue to be taught in school and places of worship. We must continue to teach each other how to love, to be kind, to be compassionate, to be patient, and to be respectful.”
5) What is the most request topic that parents want you to help their children or teens with?
“For the younger children it is about SCREEN TIME. How do I get them off their phones and stop asking for more apps or more money to put on apps. For the older children, parents want to know how to CONNECT with their teen. She or he won’t talk to me, what do I do?”
6) What is your solution to Screen Time and Connecting with your child or teen?
“I told a parent the other day that to pull your child off the phone, they (both parent and child) need to learn COMPASSION for others. Screen time is about self. When we move away from ourselves and focus on helping others, then our focus is off us and on the greater community. Go into your community and help someone. And then do it again. Soon you will be too busy to be in front of a screen. Same advice to the parents of teens. Do things together and serve others. Lift others up together. Accomplishing things together brings greater connection.”
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