Dr. Jen Welter coached some of the biggest and most athletic players in the NFL when she was an assistant coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Now, the first female coach in league history is using her teaching skills to affect a different group of people— children.
Through a series of books she and friend Brooke Foley co-authored, Welter is teaching young children about protecting themselves during the coronavirus pandemic. The “Critter Fitter” series teaches children about the pandemic in kid-friendly terms.
Some topics include frontline workers, asymptomatic transmission, social distancing, wearing a mask, and Welter hopes to provide a platform for children to discuss their feelings or questions about difficult topics. She wants children to understand the “new normal” that the global pandemic has caused, while also making it seem less than scary than it may appear.
“As we examined the global challenges and associated changes happening, we designed this series to help kids move through these times emotionally and physically, based on what they needed, not what others thought they wanted,” Dr. Welter said in an interview with Caribu.
Welter says she was inspired in part by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who talked about the need for everyone to wear a mask to protect against coronavirus during one of his press conferences.
“You wear the mask not for yourself; you wear the mask for me. It’s a sign of respect to other people,” Cuomo said in a press briefing. “You know how you show love? By wearing a mask, please.”
Welter saw Cuomo’s May press conference and then promptly wrote, “Wearing a Mask Says I Love You,” the first book in the Critter Fitter series. Welter wanted to frame wearing a mask as a positive solution, rather than a punishment.
“The mask needed its hero story,” Welter toldUSAToday. “As coaches, we’re always looking for ways to reach people, because if you can’t reach them, you can’t teach them.”
In addition to “Wearing A Mask Says I Love You,” Welter has also written “Critter Fritter With Bizzy Bee,” “When A Lady Bug Can’t Hug,” and “The Resili-Ants.”
“It’s all about finding the way that anyone of us can turn the needle,” Welter told Tuscon.com “Sometimes we get lost when it’s just us, but when there’s something bigger we can be a part or when we can help someone else, it gives us a boost.”