POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. — Impact isn’t about age. Ta'Kari Tatum is proof.
He’s a fifth grader at Varner Elementary School in Cobb County. At 11 years old, he’s also a newly published author.
“His class is so incredibly proud,” said teacher Laurie Mendenhall.
Ta'Kari's latest project will soon be part of the school library.
His "snap it" bracelets are already part of the school culture. They are rubber band bracelets people wear. When they feel stress or anxiety, they take a deep breath and snap the rubber band bracelet. It’s a reminder to slow down and talk about what they are feeling. Ta'Kari has shared more than 20,000 snap it bracelets to people all over the country.
He also had a dream to share a deeper message about mental health and be part of the solution. It’s why he wrote a children’s book called “Snap It.”
“Seeing it all come together was a breathtaking and surreal experience," Ta'Kari said.
He says a difficult few years served as the inspiration for the project.
“It was really just thinking about all the things that happened in my life and my mental health journey and putting those things on paper," he said.
Ta'Kari's best friend, his grandfather, died in the pandemic. Ta'Kari saw so many of his friends struggling too.
“My book is an extension of telling people that mental health matters and it is a serious thing that almost everyone goes through," he said.
His grandmother, Gwen Tatum, has supported his dream.
“I’m in awe," she said. "I can’t even put it in words how proud I am of him.”
She says Ta'Kari wrote this book in one week over his Fall Break.
“It was like God was giving him the words and he was just writing them down," she said.
“He is my inspiration, he fills my heart," his teacher Mrs. Mendenhall said. “It’s been incredible to see how he’s taken the hardest time in his life and made something good and impactful out of it.”
In the book, Ta'Kari writes about a time someone called him a “baby” when he was sad and struggling with his grandpa’s death. Ta'Kari lashed out at the time.
He wasn’t sure what to do with the emotions building inside. Mrs. Mendenhall reached out to his grandma hoping they could find a way to support Ta'Kari. That started an important conversation and his snap it bracelet project. It’s helped Ta'Kari work through his grief and helped many others deal with theirs.
Now-retired Varner Elementary School art teacher Robin Glover illustrated his book.
“Being asked to be part of the journey was such an amazing opportunity," she said.
Principal Althea Singletary sees the reach of Ta'Kari's impact.
“For students to see you have a great idea and you see it through and so many wonderful things can happen," she said.
Ta'Kari has a hope for everyone who reads his book: “I hope kids feel they are not alone and it’s okay not to be okay.”
"I want them to know they may not feel okay now, but it will be okay someday," he added.
Ta'Kari knows talking about it is the most important first step.
A message that’s made a difference for his dad, too.
“As men, so often we’re told to just get over things," Ta'Kari's father said. “Everyone is going through something and we need to be able to talk openly about it.”
He says Ta'Kari's project has helped him profoundly, too.
“He doesn’t know how big of an impact it’s made me and the family." he said.
An impact that will continue to grow.