Why I Choose to Promote the Dove Self-Esteem Project – From a Male Perspective

Written by Brett Delaney, Middle School Health Teacher, Coach and Dove Self-Esteem Project Cadre Trainer with Cairn Guidance, a Dove Self-Esteem Partner

I am a father to three young girls.  I coach softball and teach middle school students.  Self-esteem, body image, and body confidence are topics addressed on a daily basis with all the women and girls in my life.  What I have noticed in any conversation about self-esteem everyone, including my students, related it back to women and girls.  As I mentioned, I teach middle school students and yes, I do see girls struggle with issues regarding self-esteem and body confidence - but  I see boys struggle with this issue just as much.  I knew I needed to set out and find a way to help my students realize that self-esteem and confidence are important for everyone.

So, what is one reason I got involved as a Dove Self-Esteem cadre member?  The weight room!  In a 2013 Psychology Today article, Drexler (1) cites statistics relative to my classroom experiences. First, 40 percent of boys in middle and high school exercise regularly.  Second, boys overwhelmingly reported feeling pressured to fit a certain physical ideal of lean, muscular, and broad in the shoulders. The weight room can be a very daunting place for anyone of any physical ability.  It can be even more daunting for an 8th grade boy (in a class of 8th and 9th grade peers) who has not gone through the growing process yet, as some of his peers have. I’ve seen one of my student go through this. He came into strength class at a level he wasn’t satisfied with. He got really frustrated with his numbers and the appearance that he was “weak” compared to his peers.  He would not engage in group activities/ interact with peers, would be last to show up for class and the first to leave, his head dropped and shoulders rounded.  He also was not a member of any extracurricular activities. It was easy to see how comparing himself to others shaped his self-perception and ultimately held him back.    

Students in today’s society are influenced by so many internal and external factors.  These external factors, out of the control of the teenager, have influenced this opinion of self.  With a lot of these factors coming from different social media outlets where they can only post a picture or 140 characters, my students choose not to talk about their feelings and beliefs of themselves but rather post their negative thoughts.  My student from the weight room, I found, was posting things about his perceived strength level on social media.  Just one of many ways I have noticed middle school boys being critical of themselves. 

When teaching my unit on body confidence/body image, the biggest hurdle I have to overcome is self-talk.  Typically, teenagers are wired to think they are the only ones dealing with a given situation.  What they do not always realize is the person sitting next to them or two rows back is dealing with the same situation.  We start every year in health class with our social-emotional unit not because it is easy (it’s actually the most challenging), but because it sets the tone for the students to begin getting to know themselves and others, so the rest of the year they can find various ways to relate the content back to helping them grow as young men and women. The Dove Self-Esteem Project Confident Me! lessons helped with this problem of negative self-talk.  The discussion prompts led to great conversations about self-esteem and appearance ideals that were happening at my school.  Students were challenged with this curriculum to begin looking at themselves and stop comparing to others. 

Boys are going to continue to be pressured by different outlets which lead to comparison about self and possible negative self-talk characteristics becoming more evident.  From the Dove Self-Esteem Confident Me! lessons done in class, the discussion that ensued about negative self-talk and realizing times it happens clicked in my weight room student’s head.  He came to me after a lifting session and said he could tell he was having negative self-talk but was starting to use strategies his peers gave him from health class to help overcome those negative thoughts.  This was something done by the students themselves and not me! How powerful is that!  That is why I do what I do and help promote this great free curriculum anyway I can.  

Oh, the weight room student…  When he left as a 9th grader, he was standing tall, looking teachers and students in the eyes when communicating with them, and engaging in class and extra-curricular activities.  I don’t see this student as much now because he is in another building, but when I do, we talk about the positive things going on in his life.  I always try and tell him and other students that I am proud of them and ask them one question: What is going well in your life today?


Brett Delaney is a middle school health and physical education teacher in Iowa.  He is also a member of the Dove Self-Esteem cadre trainers who seek to increase awareness and encourage educators to implement the no-cost Dove Self-Esteem Project’s single or five-lesson Confident Me! curriculum.  For more information about the Dove Self-Esteem Project’s Confident Me! lessons, please visit the following link:  Dove Self-Esteem Project.


1. Drexler, PhD, Peggy.   January 17, 2013.  The Impact of Negative Body Image on Boys.  Psychology Today,  Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/our-gender-ourselves/201301/the-impact-negative-body-image-boys







Meet Nanci Coolen, DSEP Regional Incentive Award Winning Middle School Physical Educator

 By Antionette Meeks of Cairn Guidance, a Dove Self-Esteem Project Partner

I am the luckiest teacher in the world! I teach 150 middle school girls and they are awesome!”

Nanci Coolen is a middle school physical education teacher in the state of Hawaii.  She has been teaching middle school for fifteen years.  If there is anything she has noticed, it is that girls need to learn how to develop confidence and love themselves.  She believes her students are constantly bombarded with social media, stress, pressure, and have virtually every part of society telling them that they should look and act a certain way.

Nanci offers kudos to the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) and its Confident Me! lessons designed to get the valuable message about body confidence and positive self-esteem out. After discovering the content is research-based, she spent some time prepping for the single lesson version, including copying handouts, preparing her thoughts, and gathering magazines and materials for the lesson.  DSEP offers two different ways to teach Confident Me! by using the single lesson or five lesson curriculum.  The single lesson can be taught as a stand-alone lesson, as with Nanci’s students, or as a booster after the five-lessons have been taught.

The lesson itself took approximately one hour to teach – this is a fluid number – you could go faster or take longer depending upon the depth and breadth of your discussions. Two hours – two amazing hours of my time to teach these girls how to identify society’s pressures, how to notice what the media does to ads and things to make them look ‘perfect,’ and to discuss strategies and make goals to believe in themselves and to be more confident, self-loving people! Two hours well spent, I would say!

She plans on teaching this lesson again. Next year, she will include the boys (her school gender splits their classes).  After teaching this to the girls, Nanci knows self-esteem is something the boys need to know, as well – either as students who are experiencing these things or to know what the girls are going through.

Nanci finds the lessons are well-written, easy to follow, research-based, and so worth the time it takes to teach these valuable lessons!  Her girls enjoyed the lesson very much and made comments such as “I am not going to let the media tell me what I am supposed to look like,” “girl power,” “thank you for teaching me this – I didn’t know what they did to these ads to make them look perfect,” and “how am I supposed to live up to an image that isn’t even real?” – these comments made it all worthwhile.

DSEP appreciates Nanci’s message to other educators and is honored to recognize her as one of four 2017 national incentive award winners.

If you implemented the DSEP Confident Me! Lessons this year, you can be entered to the 2018 incentive drawing to have a chance at winning all expense paid professional development to a national or regional conference. The drawing will take place in December 2018. Email Samantha at samantha@cairnguidance.com to be entered in. It’s our way of saying thank you for teaching the DSEP Confident Me! lessons.  For more information, please visit the website at Dove Self-Esteem Project.

I would highly recommend everyone to take the time to teach this important message – kids today need this now more than ever!

2018 Dove Self-Esteem Project Cadre Trainers

Cairn Guidance is pleased to introduce the 2018 Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) National Cadre of Trainers.  These 21 professionals are located in every region of the United States and represent 18 states. They work in the fields of education (health and physical education), school nursing, school counseling and prevention.  Schools, school district offices, state agencies and local and state organizations are where they are located. A few even own their own businesses or consult in the field of prevention. Lastly, they range in a few to several years of professional experience.

Each one is dedicated to the growth and well being of our youth.  They enjoy working with and meeting each one of you via presentations, webinars, and at DSEP exhibit booths located at many state and regional conferences, as well as national conferences, such as National SHAPE, American School Counselor Association, and the National School Nurses Association.  They are a great source and excited to introduce the DSEP Confident Me! lessons to you or assist you with implementation.  Learn more about each by reading the brief introductions below and email antionette@cairnguidance.com if you would like to connect with a cadre trainer in your region.

JAN GAY, Alabama

Jan is a school counselor serving students at a Pre-K - 8 school.  She is also an experienced clinical social worker. Jan sees the Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP) as important because she sees the effects of low self-esteem and poor body image daily among her middle school students.  Further, it affects their ability to perform academically and interact socially with their peers. Jan believes everyone has the potential to be the best version of themselves inside and out. She says, "Confidence comes in all forms and beauty has many shapes."


Tara is a middle school health and physical education teacher.  She finds that adolescents are constantly bombarded by different conflicting messages on body image and ideals everyday from their family, peers, society, social media, religion and, not to mention, hormones.  Tara sees educators as having a role in helping to guide their journey of navigating through this difficult age, supplying students with as many tools as possible so they can best handle the situations that are presented to them.   She adds that DSEP allows these unique opportunities to do just that! Tara says, “We are whole when we encompass body, mind, and spirit...there is not one without the other.”


Pam is an educational consultant, award-winning educator, author, child advocate and owner of her own business that supports efforts to increase physical activity in schools, organizations, and at home.  She has developed curriculum for local schools and nationally. Pam recognizes the importance of helping others become more aware of body image and acceptance. She often remarks, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” ~ Oscar Wilde

ANNETTE FECERA, Pennsylvania

Annette is a fifteen-year health education veteran and loves every minute of it!   She feels very passionate about providing support and awareness for building students’ body confidence through the DSEP program.  Annette says, “As a female, I can definitely relate to having issues with self-esteem especially with the messages that the media sends.  I want to help students who may have the same struggles!”


Monica is an entrepreneur, independent consultant on projects in health and wellness, education, hospitality, entertainment, and nonprofit industries.  She currently provides provide training and technical assistance on teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease prevention projects.

Monica says DSEP is certainly important for many reasons. Chief of them is how this work can help young people improve their mental health. Body confidence and self-esteem are great topics to start the conversation about how young people view themselves and others and how that impacts their mental health.  Additionally, she believes self-esteem is needed in all of our lives because it reminds us to practice self-care.


Danielle is a middle school Life Skills teacher and an adjunct instructor.  She helps students think about who they are today and the kind of adult they want to become socially, emotionally, and physically through skill development. Danielle says, “I was interested in becoming a DSEP Cadre member to help young girls and boys understand their self worth goes far beyond body image. When students break through the barriers of negative body talk and comparisons, they can begin to realize their full potential where nothing holds them back."


Michelle teaches health education to 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade students.  She is also a swim coach with a community-based organization.  She says, “DSEP is an important component of our Comprehensive School Health program because it provides a foundation for all the health literacy skills students will practice.  When students feel good about themselves, they are more likely to make good decisions, set goals, eat healthy and exercise, take healthy risks, confidently resist pressures, etc.  The activities that build skills related to self-confidence improve the dynamic in the classroom and lead to rich discussions and experiences. My hope is that when students have the skills to maintain high self-esteem, they will develop an enduring empowerment to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible.”


Rachel is an early childhood physical education teacher and a Coordinated School Health school coordinator for her local health department.  She sees the Dove Self-Esteem Project as a vital tool to help guide educators and students through tough transitions. A quote she thinks is appropriate for confidence in young people, "Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch"- Ivern Ball.


John is his school’s health and physical education department head who teaches health education to 6th, 7th and 8th graders, coaches basketball, serves as the athletic director and chair of a mentoring program for young men at his school.  John enjoys what he does. No matter the context in which he interacts with students, he sees the need for higher self-esteem and more confidence amongst a variety of students.  John says, “This is why the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) is so important. Students often judge themselves against media representations of what a perfect body and person should look and act like.  These personas and images are unattainable because they are not real. The DSEP provides students with a dose of reality and a fundamental understanding of what is real when it comes to being a teen in 2018.”


Kori, having over 30 years of experience, teaches middle school students health and physical education.  Dove’s Self-Esteem Project is important to her because it provides the tools to reach today’s young people and teaches them how to see themselves in a true healthy light and how to take a stand for positive body image and diminish appearance pressure. "Having a strong confidence in one's capabilities rather than relying on one's looks is something I believe very strongly."  Kori shares Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”


Laura is a middle school counselor whose focus is to connect with students so she can connect them with their education.  She does this by supporting students in academics, post-secondary awareness, and personal/social issues. The Dove Self-Esteem Project has been a great way for her to connect with her students in the personal/social domain by helping them explore and breakdown the appearance ideals they are bombarded with in media daily and to build self-confidence.  Laura says, "Building confidence and feeling good about who they are as a person helps students to also build confidence and feel good about who they are as pupils."


Brett teaches middle school health and physical education, and is a softball coach.  “Self-esteem, body image, and body confidence is something that is an on-going daily issue for both males and females. Finding a way to make a personal connection to the individual or situation is the most important step to the ability to teaching/ helping others.  The opportunity to share the power of this program is very intriguing. Most times when people think of body image, self-esteem, and body confidence they think of females. Being a male I think I could bring a unique experience to influence others to address all parties present in a given classroom.”


Margaret has her National Board Certification and is a middle school physical education teacher.  She also coaches soccer. Margaret is excited for this adventure with the Dove Self-Esteem Project.

SHELLY KLUTZ, North Carolina

Shelly is a Nationally Certified School Nurse who for the last eleven years has served pre-kindergarten to high school aged students.  She is also her school district’s lead nurse. Shelly struggled with self-esteem issues as a teenager. One of the main reasons she became a nurse was to work with youth in hopes to be a positive influence in their lives. Being a school nurse has provided her with such amazing opportunities to do this.  She has used the DSEP Confident Me! curriculum and enjoys sharing it with other professionals.  Shelly shares the quote, "Believe in yourself, and you will be unstoppable" ~ Author Unknown


Dawn serves as a college professor of health education.  She also is a member of a state-wide cadre of educators focused on reducing physical, social and emotional barriers to learning by leveraging partnerships at the local and state levels.  Dawn is also one of the educators involved in updating DSEP materials. She is excited to bring the program to teachers and students throughout the United States. Dawn says, "The Dove Self-Esteem Project enables middle school students to develop body confidence and understand the external influences that impact them during this important developmental stage. Building self esteem among middle school students sets the stage for making healthy choices for a lifetime."


Kylie is a health educator and program coordinator with school-based health centers.  She loves watching students succeed at school as they learn to take care of their physical, social, and emotional health.  Kylie sees the Dove Self-Esteem Project as helping students achieve health by promoting body confidence and building positive peer connections.  A positive self-image helps students reach their full potential and achieve their goals.


Britnee serves as a program manager at a children’s hospital where she works with several schools and out-of-school time sites.  She is passionate about working with disadvantaged populations to create healthier, sustainable school and community environments.  Britnee finds that DSEP is important because it fills a gap that is often ignored. As a cadre trainer, she will help raise awareness around body confidence and help promote positive messaging that will transpire to helping young adolescents develop confidence and self-esteem that play an instrumental role in their overall well-being.  Britnee says, "YOU are your own unique individual and you were created to be the way you are. Be confident in who you are…Love Yourself…Embrace your imperfections. Imperfection is Beauty.”


Mary Jo is a health, physical and adaptive physical educator at a school for at-risk girls and is in her twentieth year of teaching.  Her passion for health education has given her the opportunity to speak in several states and help develop curriculum for her state. She is excited to be a DSEP cadre member.  Mary Jo says, “Helping young people overcome body image issues and fulfill their potential by building positive body confidence and self-esteem is so important in today’s youth.  Body image starts in your mind and not in the mirror. I look forward to bringing the DSEP curriculum to teachers in the Midwest.” Mary Jo adds, "Your body hears everything your mind says, Stay Positive."


Julie is a school district wellness coordinator and health and physical education teacher at an alternative high school.  She supports wellness programming for students and staff at the district level and supports youth in the classroom as well as in athletics, as a volleyball and soccer coach.  During her years of working with youth, she has seen how having body confidence allows students to participate, be braver, and follow their ideas and goals, finding more success in their lives.   Julie says, “As a DSEP cadre member, I can support all staff and students as they learn more about how to be body positive and confident. It is amazing to watch young men and women not be held back by a lack of self-esteem but reach beyond towards their dreams. When we have confidence and believe in ourselves, we can achieve our goals.”


Ebony is a project coordinator and has managed multiple federally funded programs targeting youth.  She has had the pleasure of working with youth for more than ten years, so she is not a stranger to working with young people.  Her drive for doing this work for a decade stems from her love of seeing youth live healthier lives and helping them live up to their fullest potential.  Ebony believes self-esteem is the most important protective factor in eliminating risks and producing the healthiest outcomes in people, especially youth.  The Dove Self-Esteem Project helps students be their best selves by building self-confidence and raising self-esteem. One of her favorite quotes is, "In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different."-Coco Chanel

2018 Dove Self Esteem Project National Cadre of Trainers

Written by Cairn Guidance in partnership with the Dove Self Esteem Project

It was a bright, temperate December afternoon as Cairn Guidance staff and the 2018 Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP) Cadre gathered for a two-day retreat.  Our sight clearly set on success, we began the day by having the cadre learn about each other.  This was not an icebreaker.  This was a genuine effort to begin developing relationships amongst the trainers from across the United States who will be spreading the DSEP curriculum.

 Representation of Dove Self Esteem Project Cadre Trainers

Representation of Dove Self Esteem Project Cadre Trainers

In order to engage and interest educators, it is important to help them understand the underlying core of Confident Me!, the body confidence education program for young girls and boys created by the Dove Self-Esteem Project.  Is it credible?  Is it successful and why?  What is the ease of implementation?  What does it cost?  How is it supported? Cadre members enthusiastically listened as Jessica Lawrence, Cairn Guidance’s Director, modeled a presentation for educators or their decision makers.  It was important for members to see the presentation in action. 

Lights! Camera! Action!  It was now their turn! Divided into groups, members were assigned one of the six Confident Me! lessons.  Their task was to provide an overview of the lesson.  After each group presented and during discussions, Jessica again supported learning by sharing additional tips and suggestions. 

It was a great first day.  Cadre members got to know each other, gained a better understanding of the research and evidence that supports the need and development of the Confident Me! program, had the opportunity to learn more about the lessons, saw modeling, and shared tips.  Did I mention the energizers led by cadre members Danielle Petrucci and Heather Deckard? What fun! 

This day was just the beginning…

The next day began with cadre members experiencing one of the program’s student activities, Find Someone Who…  Members dutifully wandered the room with their list in hand, looking for someone who fulfilled any of the talents or skills listed.  What they found was more than securing a signature on a specific line.  They discovered incredible tidbits shared by fellow cadre members.  They actively listened to each other, asked questions, laughed, and eagerly moved from person to person.  This first-hand experience of the student activity was eye opening for many.

As the sun continued its trek, so did the cadre.  In order for them to do their jobs well, they needed to fully understand their roles and responsibilities.  It was critical for them to have a deep understanding of their purpose and how to navigate through the protocols set-up for their success and the smooth running of DSEP.  It was also helpful for the newest members to hear from the 2017 cadre on their successes and learning opportunities.

 Samantha training trainers on how to run the DSEP exhibit booth. 

Samantha training trainers on how to run the DSEP exhibit booth. 

Taking learning into their own hands, members rotated through carousels on professional development, conferences and virtual communication opportunities.  They brainstormed and shared ideas on how to leverage each in order to reach educators and interest them in implementing the program.  Pages of great information were generated and will be typed and shared.  Today’s technology allowed participants to take pictures for immediate use, as they developed their year-long work plans.

The last session saw members rotating through three stations allowing for discussion, practice or strategizing.  The richness of the discussions, enthusiasm in each member’s eyes, and commitment was palpable.

We are ready, prepared, and eager to help educators touch additional student lives in 2018.  This retreat allows us to move forward steadfastly and with sure-footed purpose.  To learn more about DSEP, visit the Dove Self Esteem Project.  Stay tuned!

 2018 Dove Self Esteem Cadre Trainers!

2018 Dove Self Esteem Cadre Trainers!




Introducing Our Newest Team Member!

This week, Antionette Meeks will be joining Cairn Guidance as the Dove Self Esteem Coordinator. Below, is her introduction to you!

By Antionette Meeks


Resilient says a lot about who I am. Without a doubt, though, I’ve had my moments of feeling low, but I’ve always bounced back quickly. To say that I have a positive, hopeful, and thankful spirit may be an understatement. The question is, why? What made me so positive and resilient as a child and on into adulthood? How are these qualities connected to my career path?

I am Antionette Meeks, the Dove Self Esteem Project Cadre Coordinator for Cairn Guidance, and I had the proverbial village. My village consisted of people who lifted me up and helped me understand and live two words: “I can.” I am grateful for them.

Who made up my village? Early on, it consisted of my parents, great grandparents, great aunt, siblings, other relatives, neighbors, my dad’s customers, and other adults. Later, my village included friends, teachers, professors, coaches, scout leaders, clergy, and colleagues. Globally, there are historical figures that fought and achieved for themselves and/or others, national figures, and even some celebrities.

Those in my initial village set the foundation. My father taught me to be inquisitive, think, and take initiative. Both of my parents imparted the importance of trying and doing my best. The race was never against another; the race was for me. My parents taught kindness, gratitude, honesty, and respect for self and others. They taught me to stand up for myself and others, and for that which was right.

I learned the value of education, being able to speak coherently, and using facts to support a point. Further, I was taught to respect varying opinions. It was okay to bend, but not break. My great aunt taught compliance to rules that serve purposes.

My great grandparents added giving. They all taught love.

Everyone in my village, without fail, taught, “I can”. Teachers always encouraged, giving additional learning support and using tools to move me forward. Professors helped me succeed by their instruction and one-on-one discussions in the hall or their offices. Coaches taught the concept of teamwork, playing fair, and encouraged me not to settle for less than what I knew I could do. We were all taught to be teammates, understanding what we brought to the team as individuals. We learned the importance of the journey versus focusing solely on the win. The win was the “gravy”.

The village taught me to laugh, laugh at myself, have fun, and not take life too seriously. The expectation, ultimately, was that I was to achieve – do my best. It was okay to fail, learn from it, and move on. The village expected me to find my life’s path – knowing I may walk many on my discovery tour and that was okay. I found my path as a teacher and coach. It just seems natural that I would begin my professional career as a health/physical education teacher. I enjoyed helping 5 of 5 students learn their “I cans”. The opportunity to touch more lives led me to a school district-level role, leading to contact with educators at all of our schools. This new role helped me develop relationships with several local agencies and organizations.

Later, working for the state health and education agencies gave me even greater reach. Returning to my educator roots as an adjunct for undergraduates, graduate, and doctoral students confirmed my reason for selecting this career path. Giving back through board memberships and community involvement added to my path.

Quite simply, I believed in me. I believed in my unique gifts and skill sets. I had people in my life that told me and showed me, “I can”. I chose a career path that allowed me to impact young lives, helping them see and experience their “I cans”. I want youth to feel good about themselves, feel empowered, fell courageous, feel joyful, feel whole. My path, beginning with my village, gave me the tools and desire to be a part of the positive journey of the youth and professionals with whom I have worked.

How one sees themselves, sees their world and sees themselves in the world, makes a difference. See yourselves as beautiful or handsome, smart, talented people.

Everyone doesn’t necessarily have a village, but they do have themselves and often, at least, one person who believes in, cares for and encourages them. I hope I have been that one as I have touched lives along my journey. I know I am looking forward to this journey, working with the Dove Self Esteem project.

Health and Physical Education Teacher, Angela Stark shares her experience Attending SHAPE America

Written by Cairn Guidance in partnership with the Dove Self Esteem Project

Angela Stark was thrilled to hear that she was one of two national educators to win the Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP) incentive opportunity. Angela, a health and physical education teacher in Lexington, Kentucky, won an all-expense paid trip to the SHAPE National Convention in Boston in March of 2017.


Angela talked with us about her school demographics. The School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA) has a lot of students who dance. Dancers can feel pressure to look a certain way, so she believed that the Dove Self-Esteem Project might be able to help her dancers and all of her students with their self-image. DSEP tools and resources can provide students an opportunity to not only focus on their physical appearance, but to see the value in their talents, skills, and attributes. The curriculum, with two options – a single-lesson or five-lesson program, helps students hone their skills in analyzing influences to reflect on the impact of unattainable appearance ideals seen in media.

Angela piloted the program in a co-ed classroom with her 6th graders. All youth appreciated hearing from different perspectives and viewpoints on how they feel impacted by appearance ideals.

Angela delivered the lessons in both fall and spring to cover all of her students. She started with the single-lesson in fall and continued using the five-lesson program as a booster and an opportunity for students to practice skills-based instruction around communication, assessing information and analyzing influences.

We asked her what her experience winning an all-expense paid trip to SHAPE America was like and she said, “Awesome! It was great to promote things that I believe in and trust as I do with the DSEP. In addition, growing as an educator to benefit students is essential to being a great educator, so attending the SHAPE convention allowed me to do that.”

Angela shared with us that the connections she made and the information learned from this experience have been priceless! But more importantly, she is thankful for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, which impacted her students in such a positive way.

Thank you Angela for sharing your insights on the Dove Self-Esteem Project!

To find out how you can attend the 2018 SHAPE America Convention, or the national or state conference of your choice, please email Samantha@cairnguidance.com for more information.

American School Counselor Association and the Dove Self Esteem Project

Written by Samantha Lowe of Cairn Guidance in partnership with the Dove Self Esteem Project

Cairn Guidance recently represented the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) at the American School Counselor Association in Denver, CO. In attendance was myself, Heather Deckard and over 3,000 school counselors from around the globe. This trip was AMAZING! My boyfriend (Brandon) and I used this as an opportunity to take a road trip, so we loaded up our rental car and drove from Kentucky to Colorado. We arrived in Colorado after about 20 hours of driving. Normal people would want to sleep, but since we arrived early in the day we had to check out the Denver Zoo and the wonderful places to eat!

Before the conference we were slightly skeptical how the program would be received with school counselors, as we had mostly been attending Health and PE conferences such as SHAPE/AHPERDs. This skepticism quickly dissipated as within the first hour our booth was flooded with excited attendees eager to find a comprehensive program focused on supporting the self-esteem of their students.  Many school counselors had utilized aspects of the program before, such as the “Evolution” video. This powerful video was mentioned by counselors from Hawaii to Maine, who expressed what open/meaningful conversation it sparked between adolescent students. School counselors supported our message 100% and were excited to lead by example and join our social media movement! We also interviewed LaKesha Grooms, a school counselor from Georgia who won an all-expense paid trip to ASCA by implementing the DSEP lessons in 2016.

Read LaKesha’s interview and check out the pictures of conference attendees who participated in our #DoveSelfEsteemProject positive social media movement focusing on the attributes that make us unique!

Meet LaKesha Grooms, the School Counselor working on Body Confidence Issues at her school!

LaKesha Grooms is a School Counselor at Henderson Middle School in Jackson, Georgia and one of our 2016 incentive winners for the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP). LaKesha won an all-expense paid trip to the American School Counselors Association’s (ASCA) National Conference in Denver, Colorado in July 2017.

LaKesha spent some time looking for resources to support students that struggled with their self-esteem. She noticed many of her students were struggling with body confidence issues and she happened to find the Dove Self-Esteem Project online.

LaKesha believes the curriculum, which includes a single-lesson and 5-lesson program is a great fit for students taught by school counselors. The program provides resources for students by providing skills-based instruction and learning; guidance on how to implement the program; and how to align the content with the American School Counselor Association standards.

When asked what she thought the impact on her students was, LaKesha said, “Identity! Many kids struggle with their identity. That goes hand in hand with a healthy self-esteem and being comfortable with who they are.” She loved how the program encouraged awesome discussions in class. Her groups really flowed and the kids were able to express themselves by sharing some personal things that they struggle with, such as the need to fit in with a certain group. The impact for her was getting them to start talking about themselves and acknowledging the fact they are different and unique.

She facilitated the program in small groups with about 10 students per group. The students were carefully selected since they were students that were struggling with self-esteem. LaKesha suggests that if implementing with groups versus in a classroom setting, capitalize on the program! Make it grow! You can use it in a variety of ways. They have clubs/flex groups at the end of the day during the last day of the month where students get to go to the class of their choice. You could embed this program into some of your current programs. You can get your science, health and PE teachers involved. She believes that when everyone is involved using the program it spills over!

LaKesha believes implementing the program is worth it and it is worth it for the kids!

 Now for the best part, DOVE SELF-ESTEEM PROJECT WAS VOTED BEST BOOTH AT ACSA 2017! Winners were decided by conference attendees voting on the ASCA app, and we were extremely honored as this was the first year Dove Self-Esteem Project was in attendance!  Cairn Guidance and DSEP wants to thank ASCA and its attendees for welcoming our mission and we look forward to working with more eager school counselors to help students achieve their full potential!

Now for the best part, DOVE SELF-ESTEEM PROJECT WAS VOTED BEST BOOTH AT ACSA 2017! Winners were decided by conference attendees voting on the ASCA app, and we were extremely honored as this was the first year Dove Self-Esteem Project was in attendance!

Cairn Guidance and DSEP wants to thank ASCA and its attendees for welcoming our mission and we look forward to working with more eager school counselors to help students achieve their full potential!

From Evidence to Action

By Heather Deckard

The theme of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) Annual Conference in San Diego, CA June 30- July 1 this year was From Evidence to Action. It was a great experience to represent the Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP) as an exhibitor to share a range of curriculum-relevant teaching resources, developed in collaboration with educators and students. The DSEP tools take evidence to action and are proven to make a positive impact in body-confidence.

The DSEP Teachers program Confident Me[1]  has been proven to:

·      Improve body image

·      Boost self-esteem

·      Reduce social impairment (likelihood of opting out)

The DSEP lessons and materials were well received by school nurses from all over the US – many of whom shared they could use this project to augment their puberty lessons. Research shows that one in five high school students reported being bullied on school property. [2] We know that young people are bullied for a number of reasons, but appearance, including body shape, weight, and skin, are common. The school nurses we met with reported needing something on this topic for their middle school and high school students, as bullying, low self-esteem, and access to social media can impact student’s health and ability to learn. Those that do not teach were happy to pass the information onto their Health or Physical Education teachers.

The Evolution and Change One Thing films created by DSEP are engaging and impactful assets shared through the Confident Me! Toolkit, well-liked by educators and teachers, alike. Remember, the program is absolutely no cost! Find the programs here: www.dove.com/selfesteem

Cairn Guidance has partnered with the Dove Self-Esteem Project to reach young lives with self-esteem curriculum across the country.


[1]  Diedrichs, P.C., Atkinson, M.J., Steer, R.J., Garbett, K.M., Rumsey, N. & Halliwell, E. (2015). Effectiveness of a brief school-based body image intervention ‘Dove Confident Me: Single Session’ when delivered by teachers and researchers: Results from a cluster randomised controlled trial. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 74, 94-104. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2015.09.004

[2] Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. High School Survey, 2015. Retrieved from https://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/App/Default.aspx

Dove Self Esteem Project National Cadre Introductions!

Cairn Guidance is proud to introduce the 2017 Dove Self-Esteem Project National Cadre members, representing thirteen states around the country. 

These educators participated in a rigorous application process to represent this national cadre. They are passionate about the health, well-being and academic success of youth. The cadre members were selected from many applicants across the US and comprise a mix of both new and experienced professionals that include health teachers, physical education teachers, public health professionals, school nurses and school counselors.

During their term, the cadre will play an essential role in providing FREE professional development to educators across their region. The cadre members will provide quality support, awareness and training on the Dove Self Esteem Project called Confident Me!.

 Rachel Callaway, AZ

Rachel Callaway, AZ

Rachel works for the local county health department and they help give many resources to wellness coordinators at over 100 schools.  Rachel says the reason she is interested in being a Dove Ambassador is that, “I realized after researching the program that had I had this information as a pre-teen, I may have had more success during those troubling years.”

Angie is a middle school health and physical education teacher. Angie says “middle school is the most awkward stage of life and self-esteem can be made or broken during this time period. It is crucial to show this age group critical thinking skills about the media and social skills to deal with the pressures of puberty.” She also says, “Positive self-esteem is important because it creates humans that are more effective and productive. With positive self-esteem people respond to others and themselves in healthy and positive ways. IN the end this creates a better society.”

 Brett Delaney, Iowa

Brett Delaney, Iowa

Brett teaches middles school students and coach softball. “Self-esteem, body image, and body confidence is something that is addressed on a daily basis. Finding a way to make a personal connection to the individual or situation is the most important step to the ability to teaching/ helping others. The opportunity to share the power of this program is very intriguing.  Most times when people think of body image, self-esteem, and body confidence they think of females.  Being a male I think I could bring a unique experience to influence others to address all parties present in a given classroom.”

 Brandon Wolff, KS

Brandon Wolff, KS


Brandon Wolff, Kansas
Brandon is a Middle School Physical Education and Health teacher and coach of football, basketball and track. “Self-esteem must be the FOUNDATION of helping students understand themselves and their fitness.  My goal is for students to be physically active for a lifetime, but I must focus on EACH student's INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. Being a Dove Ambassador will help me become a better advocate for students.  This opportunity allows me to spread a message about the importance of self-esteem among kids especially middle schoolers.”

 Danielle Petrucci, MA

Danielle Petrucci, MA

Danielle is a middle school Life Skills teacher giving students a chance to think about who they are today and what kind of adult they want to become socially, emotionally, physically, and academically.  Danielle said, “I was interested in becoming a Dove ambassador to help young girls and boys understand that their worth goes far beyond their body image. When they break through the barriers of negative body talk, they can begin to thrive in life where nothing holds them back.”

 Monica Coleman, MS

Monica Coleman, MS

Monica works with school staff to reduce teen pregnancy and STDS. She is also counsels middle school students. Monica says the Dove Self-Esteem Project fits in nicely to the work she is already doing.


 Kelle Carbone, NY

Kelle Carbone, NY




Kelle is a special educator and believes that discussions regarding body confidence and self-care are far and few between within the field. Kelle says, “I truly wish to promote holistic education to students who are often not considered regarding topics of sexuality and the body.” He says he became interested in being a Dove Ambassador because “as someone who identifies as a member of the LGBT community, I realized the dire importance of body confidence education in order to create inclusive and safe environments.”


 Tara Cooper, NJ

Tara Cooper, NJ



Tara is a middle school health and physical education teacher. She is also a track coach, CPR instructor, personal trainer/ group exercise instructor and now a new mom.  Tara says, “Feeling good about yourself in body, mind and spirit is crucial at any age, but especially those in the middle school years. Working in a middle school I wanted to jump at the opportunity to share this powerful program and message to may students and colleagues.” 

 Margaret Hornbeck, NM

Margaret Hornbeck, NM


Margaret is a middle school physical education teacher. She is also a coaches soccer and most recently finished her National Board Certification.  Margaret is excited for this adventure with the Dove Self-Esteem Project.



SHELLY KLUTZ, North Carolina
Shelly works as a school nurse in which they teach 5th grade puberty and reproductive health. Self image is part of there curriculum as well. She also works one on one with students who suffer from eating disorders. Shelly says “ I struggled with positive self-esteem as a teenage myself. Once of my reasons of going into school nursing (nursing in general) was to work with students and hope to be a positive influence in their lives. This school year we had a student with an eating disorder pass away. So this project cam at a good time for school system.”

 Kylie Pybus, OR

Kylie Pybus, OR

Kylie works with high school students at Milwaukie and Rex Putnam High Schools every day. Kylie says “We have conversations about self-confidence, stress, mental health, and so much more. I am excited to collaborate with Cairn Guidance and the Dove Self- Esteem Program to further this work.”


 Annette Fecera, PA

Annette Fecera, PA

ANNETTE FECERA, Pennsylvania 
Annette teaches high school health and loves every minute of it! She says, “As a female, I can definitely relate to having issues with self-esteem especially with the messages that the media sends. I want to help students who may have the same struggles!”

Jennifer is an 18-year Health Education veteran. She has seen how confidence (in any realm) is paramount to believing in the power of living a healthy lifestyle. She cherishes the opportunity to shift the mindset of someone struggling with negative self-image through the Dove Self-Esteem Program, Confident Me!




JULIE KING, South Dakota 
Julie is an 18-year veteran of Middle School Counseling. She has used the Dove Self-Esteem Program, Confident Me! with her 5th and 6th grade students.  She is excited to be part of the Dove Self-Esteem Project and to bring it to others in her state. 

The Energizer Bunny!

Written by Heather Deckard, our new Dove Self Esteem Program Coordinator.

Did you ever see the commercial with the energizer bunny?


The bunny kept going and going due to the amazing batteries it was running on. Well that’s me, Heather Deckard. I’ve been a tireless champion for physical education and wellness for over 20 years. I currently teach middle school physical education in the morning and in the afternoon I serve as the District physical education coordinator. I teach in an urban school district with 47,000 students and have been leading the charge to revive and standardize the physical education programming on the ground and among my peers. As a result, I’ve created systems change in my district that has elevated the importance of student physical education as a pillar of a complete educational experience and curriculum.

I’ve served in many leadership roles in the California Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD), including as President in 2014. I have served as a National Ambassador for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and I am a current Let’s Move Active Schools (LMAS) Physical Activity Leader (PAL) trainer. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento. Next stop was West Virginia University to obtain my Master of Science in Physical Education- Teacher Education. I chose to attend West Virginia University to see if there was a difference between west and east coast philosophy in physical education and health. Ask me sometime what I found out!

I am extremely excited to begin my role with Cairn Guidance. I first met Director Jess Lawrence at the very first Urban Physical Education Summit during her session on systems change. I will be serving as the Dove Self Esteem Ambassador Program Coordinator. Some of duties include providing support to the 18 selected Dove Ambassadors, representing 14 states, including coordinating travel for Ambassador training events; facilitating Ambassador applications to state conferences for exhibiting and presenting; technical assistance/support for training events, tracking of outreach for reporting purposes, social media engagement strategies; writing newsletter and blog posts even networking/building strategic partnerships with a variety of key associations.

On top of all of this I am a mom of two amazing boys, I play competitive slow-pitch softball and I’m part owner in a Nutrition Club.