By Matt Mackinder
Clarkston News Editor
Clarkston resident Jeff Chamberlain came out with a book last year entitled “The Dog with the Crooked Tail” that is now part of a new initiative for district first graders, the Milo Project.
Chamberlain describes the Milo Project as a positive, self-confidence and anti-bullying program created for children entering elementary school.
“It is quite common that these children have some type of fear or insecurity as they embark on this new journey,” Chamberlain said. “The Milo Project is focused around ‘The Dog with the Crooked Tail,’ a story of a dog named Milo that has a crooked tail. Milo was actually inspired by our real-life family dog named Milo and does indeed have a crooked tail. Milo is feeling insecure and nervous about what others may say and think about his tail on his first day of school. The message behind the story is everyone is special and unique in their own way.
“The goal of this story is two-fold. The first is to build self-confidence in every child and help them recognize that our differences are what makes us special. The second is to prevent bullying in the future. As we know, all bullies are insecure and have low self-esteem.
“The order of building self-confidence first is very intentional. This self-confidence is paramount in preventing a child from becoming a bully in the future as well as giving the child the confidence to stand up against bullying when they see it.”
The Milo Project consists of “The Dog with the Crooked Tail” book, a Milo Project backpack charm, author readings and Q & A session, and a Milo Project poster for first-grade classrooms and hallways.
Chamberlain said he is beyond thrilled that CCS officials jumped at the opportunity, and the feeling is mutual.
“‘The Dog with the Crooked Tail’ has a wonderful message of inclusion and self-confidence,” said CCS Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Nancy Mahoney. “We are happy to join the Milo Project with Clarkston community member and parent Jeff Chamberlain, and look forward to sharing with our first-grade students.”
Starting in first grade with this program was done strategically, said Chamberlain.
“There is no quick fix to the problem of low-self-esteem and bullying and that is why the goal of the Milo Project is to implement this project in every first grade class year after year,” Chamberlain said. “By the time the first class that participates is in fifth grade, every student in that elementary school will know who Milo is and his message. It is this type of commitment and consistency that will affect real and sustainable change.”
The district is purchasing one book for each first-grade classroom as well.
Chamberlain said the inspiration for the Milo Project came from a perfect storm of events, starting with suffering a stroke in Sept. 2017, having a daughter with special needs, a gay son, and living in the current societal environment.
“It is a sad-but-true fact that our children are growing up in a challenging time with fears of school shootings among all the other problems that come from low self-esteem and bullying,” said Chamberlain. “The Milo Project is an initiative to help address these issues in a positive and fun way a child can embrace.”
For more information on the Milo Project or to get a copy of the book or backpack charm, contact Chamberlain at email@example.com, call 248-403-1459, or visit his website at themiloproject.org.
PHOTO: Clarkston’s Jeff Chamberlain poses with his dog Milo, the inspiration for his children’s book “The Dog with the Crooked Tail.” Photo provided