Local | Mind, Body & Spirit

‘Helping Young People Cope’ is local author’s answer to pandemic and beyond

Months ago, Ester Leutenberg told her husband, Jay, she was concerned about young children and teens’ reactions to the restrictions and uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our twin grandsons could not have a high school graduation ceremony; young people of all ages were either struggling with virtual classes or going to school and taking chances; many of them living in homes where there was no food to eat, and perhaps no parents at home because they needed to work – if they had jobs,” says Leutenberg, an Oro Valley resident.

“I became fairly obsessed with this,” she says, until her husband asked if any of the 139 life skills workbooks she’d co-written with mental health professionals might help. Although she has co-written books on anxiety, coping, life management, mindfulness, character building, and other topics, she felt that none really addressed living in the middle of a world-wide crisis.

“After a couple of weeks of angst and concern about what I could do to help, I called one of my favorite co-authors, Carol Butler-Cooper,” she says. Butler-Cooper is a board certified psychiatric and mental health nurse with a master of science in education and school counseling.

“In early November we wrote a proposal for such a book and sent it to my five publishers,” Leutenberg says, “telling them that we would need to do this quickly, and that whoever emailed us first would have the opportunity to publish it. That evening, the owner of Pieces of Learning sent us a contract. The hitch? The book needed to be in his hands by the end of the year because he knew how badly this support is needed — now.”

To ensure “Helping Young People Cope: Todays Crises and Finding Ways to Change the World” remains relevant beyond the current crisis, it actually doesn’t refer directly to the current pandemic, Leutenberg notes. The book is for parents, caregivers, teachers, counselors, and others who work with young people. Topics covered include how crises may affect young people’s physical and emotional health, as well as ways to help them navigate issues of safety, money, the media, and the ability to cope. Its dozens of practical suggestions — some of them collected from her wide circle of friends who are therapists, counselors, teachers, parents, and/or grandparents — include pet-sitting, discovering ancestry, creating their own games, random acts of kindness, and listing reasons to be grateful.

Leutenberg and Butler-Cooper are finishing the final chapter, and the book will be available early in 2021 from piecesoflearning.com.