You hear parents say it all the time "I just want my child to be happy, that's most important" but kids don't often stay happy unless they practice positive mental health & unfortunately most kids here aren't learning how.
We are on a mission to introduce simple and fun positive mental health practices to students and teachers. By fundrasing, we can provide gratitude journals free of charge to local schools. Schools are the perfect place to introduce high impact, self-care tools because it means that ALL kids get to benefit. And Gratitude Journals are a perfect starting point for kids to learn about mental health because it's evidence-based, simple, fun and the effects last for months after you stop journalling!
We know that keeping kids happy is something everyone can get behind. But I don't think anyone needs to feel overwhelmed or pressured to do something huge. There are enough good people here that we can really make a difference if we each do something! Little things - Big Impact!
Northern Ireland is in a crisis situation. We have, by far the Uk’s worst mental health outcomes and the least provision of professional care. Without a functioning government, there is little hope that the help and support we need will come from our government agencies, health care providers or education authority any time soon.
But we are not helpless. We as individuals can turn this crisis around if we want to!
We believe it'll take 3 main steps.
• Most importantly we must look after ourselves, we must practice self-care and learn how to positively impact our own mental health.
• We must also stay connected with our family and friends. Positive social connections are the biggest indicators for a long and healthy life! We need to talk about our struggles, feelings and banish the negative stigma of mental illness. Making more of an effort to show support to loved ones is something we can all do.
• Lastly, we have to promote simple, positive mental health practices in our schools and workplaces. Not everyone has access to (even basic) information on mental health, and that has to change!
Gratitude journaling works on all 3 of those points. For yourself and your own self-care, to strengthen connections and make a habit of checking in with feelings and is a simple practice to bring into schools and workplaces.
Writing 3 new things you're grateful for each day for 30 days is one of the simplest, most effective & proven methods of improving your mental health. It works with kids and adults. It’s impactful whether you are struggling or already completely content. The benefits last months after you finish the 30 days & it’s a tool you can go back to and use again at any point in your life.
As children grow up, they start to feel more pressures and responsibilities in life and are inevitably are going to encounter stress. Small amounts of stress are not damaging & can be good for building up emotional resilience. But often young people just don’t have the mental tools they need to keep things in perspective and stress builds up to unhealthy levels. Unhealthy stress levels can lead to anxiety, depression, feelings of overwhelm, social isolation and a range of other mental health problems.
Introducing children to gratitude journaling helps them to see things as they are and overcome our minds natural bias to focus more on the negatives. It enables them to have a more balanced view when stressful times arise. An example of this may be if a child does badly on a test, a balanced view might be 'I'm really upset and disappointed right now but I know I can do better next time and I did well on my other 3 subjects. I suppose not everything sucks'. An unbalanced view might be more like 'I knew I was going to fail, I'm no good at school, I can't do anything right. Everything sucks'
This shift in attitude can have a massive impact. Studies have shown that grateful teens suffer less anxiety and depression, have higher levels of optimism and hopefulness about the future and are more socially engaged. There are also studies that show 11-14 year olds who practiced gratitude journaling regularly performed better on standardised academic tests than their peers who journaled about daily life without a focus on gratitude.
Clearly, gratitude journalling is a great thing to do. Learning a new habit is hard though. That's why having a fun, colourful and encouraging space to write in helps people to stick at it for the full 30 days and get the maximum benefit.
This 30-day journal challenges you to write 3 new things each day, that you're grateful for. Doing this will train your brain to scan the world for more positive things! Helping you stay happier!
Other proven effects of gratitude include;
• Higher levels of creativity
• Higher levels of motivation
• Better self regulation & co-operation
• Better problem solving
• Longer attention span
• Less negative & depressive thoughts
• Fewer symptoms of illness (sick days)
• More generous behaviour
• More positive social connections
• Higher sense of purpose & hopefulness about the future
The Happiest Gratitude Journal is beautifully designed, some pages have prompts to inspire your writing like '3 people you're grateful for' & 'nice places I've been recently' other days have interactive charts to fill in.
Filled with bright colours and uplifting vibes, it really is the happiest gratitude journal!
We really care about quality. Our journals have vibrant colours, beautiful design on each page, you can clearly see and feel the superior quality of the materials used. Printed on a fine 120gsm uncoated paper stock. Uncoated paper is lovely to write on and minimises the chance of ink smudges.
The cover is a thick 250gsm matt laminated which gives a durable, but still 'paperback' finish. Matt lamination is soft to the touch and protective.
There are 62 pages in total including the covers. There are pages for doodles and notes as well as information on how to use the journals and the science of gratitude. Journals are A6: 105x148 mm (10x15cm) or 4-1/8 x 5-7/8 inches and approximately 8mm thick.
Hello! We are Astra and Al McNicholl. Our family business creates products that make it fun & easy to bring positive mental health practices into everyday life. We started Itty Bitty Book Co in 2013 when our son was born, we quit our jobs then and put everything into making a positive impact with our new business, and fun life for our family.
Al and I had started with no business experience, no money, and no connections! I think we survived on passion and enthusiasm! We strongly believed that not everything sucks and that focusing on the good things too was really important. As we shared our ideas and products on social media we attracted an amazing group of positive thinking, supportive people who are still growing and part of our tribe today.
We started trading at local markets and selling on Etsy. Our range of products expanded and we set up our website ittybittybookco.com and started selling to gift shops and book stores. In 2018 we secured an Ireland wide distribution deal and also began selling on Amazon. 2019 has brought a focus of community into our business and inspired this crowdfunding campaign and our ongoing buy one - give one initiative.
As our business has grown, so has our son who's now 6 years old. Doing our best to raise him with a healthy mindset and positive outlook has no doubt influenced our passion for protecting and improving the mental health of all children.
We appreciate you supporting this project and to say thank you we've created the best rewards we could think of! We hope you'll spot something you'll love on offer as a reward for your donation. We have tried to offer a varied range of rewards to suit different budgets and needs. You can also donate without selecting a reward if you want or select a reward of lesser value if you'd like to have your donation make the most impact.
Most of the rewards have been created with products from our business but we wanted to offer something a bit different too. The Itty Bitty Book Co. team recently went to the We Are Vertigo Inflata-Park for a fun teambuilding evening. It was the BEST craic! We laughed so hard and were completely exhausted after - such a great physical workout while having a seriously good time. It got us thinking about how important it is to play and how good play is for our mental health.
We contacted the We Are Vertigo management team and told them about this project - they thought it was a great idea and also saw the connection between fun with friends and family, and good mental health. They generously donated 5 sets of 5 passes to the Inflata-Park! We are so grateful!
(Don't let the video mislead you - this place is DEFINITELY for grown-ups too!)
“The gratitude journal is really working, I really am noticing lots of good things already!" - P6 child I saw a week after his class received their journals.
“I began my Gratitude Journal with my 6-year-old boy as a part of our bedtime routine. I found me as much as him musing on what makes him happy, grateful and feel good. He began talking about gratitude throughout his day and I found him looking forward to this bonding time and he seemed to be a more positive and relaxed outlook on his day time activities as well as the Gratitude Journal practice. I would highly recommend this for children (as well as adults!) and I look forward to completing another journal!" - Orla McKeating, parent & founder of Boden Park Coffee Co.
“I started the daily gratitude challenge at the height of what I would have typically found a very stressful time, I was in the middle of finishing my final university exams and starting two new jobs but also found myself becoming stressed by everyday situations. However, since starting and continuing the daily gratitude challenge I have genuinely found myself becoming less stressed out and noticing the numerous things to be grateful for every day. Practicing gratitude has become part of my daily routine, I actually don’t feel right if I miss a day! The gratitude challenge keeps reminding me that it really is the little things which make the biggest difference to our continuous happiness!" - Ellen Grimshaw, a university student.
"My daughter got one given to her at her primary school. She really enjoyed your talk and is loving filling in her journal every day" - Facebook Review from Grace Cully, Parent
"As a mum of a little 8-year-old lady who, most days see the negatives of school, the Itty Bitty Gratitude Journal has been a great success in helping her articulate the positives too. The impact of ‘journally’ has helped my daughter also articulate what triggers some of the feelings and how to deal with those challenging situations. Really love this product, it a quick and fun way of helping your child recognise and navigate their emotional wellbeing." - Diane Morrow, parent & founder of MTech Academy
"At Ballyclare High School we understand that our pupils can only fulfill their academic potential if their wellbeing is also being cared for. We hope that the pupils using the gratitude journals will focus on all of the positive things in their lives and this will help them during times of difficulty, both inside and out of school." - Nikki Craig, BSc MSc PGCE, Ballyclare High School
We are really excited to reach our goal of donating to every school in Lisburn & Castlereagh Council. But this crowdfunder project is not the end! Once it’s over we are going to continue working with organisations, companies, schools, and individuals across Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, Ireland, and the world! To keep kids happy!
We'll continue to offer a buy one - give one system on the sale of our journals to businesses (info on our website). For every box sold, we will donate a box to a school. Doubling the positive impact!
Thank you so much for supporting our Keeping Kids Happy project. Crowdfunding is a whole new world for us but we love how it empowers people, giving everyone a way to make a difference in an area that means something to them.
We are incredibly grateful for your support and plan to keep you updated throughout the process as well as sharing the impact created once the schools receive the journals.
We hope you have a happy day!
Astra & Al McNicholl
Founders of Itty Bitty Book Co.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead