New Kids Menus Feature Activities to Develop Emotional Intelligence

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411-KIDS "Connect-the-Family" activity menus are helping youngsters improve their emotional intelligence, EQ, during family mealtime. Dr. Lori Gordon, one of the world's leading marriage and family therapists, has brought relationship skills to kids menus. She has teamed up with 411-KIDS and JMS Designs to help youngsters improve their EQ and raise money to help homeless youth.

411-KIDS "Connect-the-Family" activity menus are helping youngsters improve their emotional intelligence, EQ, during family mealtime. Dr. Lori Gordon, one of the world's leading marriage and family therapists, has brought relationship skills to kids menus. She has teamed up with 411-KIDS and JMS Designs to help youngsters improve their EQ and raise money to help homeless youth.

Would you like some lessons in life with those fries? How about a serving of emotional intelligence with that chicken basket? With the launch of 411-KIDS "Connect-the-Family" menus, youngsters armed with crayons are already raising their emotional intelligence, EQ, during family mealtimes.

Emotional intelligence is key to raising children to become happy, healthy, successful adults, says marriage and family therapist Lori Gordon (http://www.pairs.org). Dr. Gordon is the author of landmark relationship building books such as PAIRS, Passage to Intimacy and If You Really Loved Me. Her work has been translated for audiences on every continent to help children, couples, and families.

Dr. Gordon’s newest project is the series of “Connect-the-Family” kids menus that combine mealtime with age appropriate activities to teach children communications, problem solving and emotional understanding skills.

The trademark menus are marketed and produced by JMS Designs (http://www.ConnectTheFamily.org), a Sunrise, Florida specialty printing company that supplies restaurants across the country. Sold for less than a quarter, the custom printed activity books include the individual restaurant’s logo, contact information, featured menu items and range of activities that build emotional intelligence. Proceeds help 411-KIDS (http://www.411kids.org), a south Florida nonprofit, recruit, train and support volunteers who help homeless and disadvantaged youth.

Bruce Sharkey, president of JMS, said the company has already begun promoting the new menus to customers nationwide. “There’s a lot of immediate interest around the country,” he said. “We’re thrilled. The more we sell, the more we can help 411 reach kids whose lives are at risk,” said Sharkey. He said his dream is to sell enough menus to help 411-KIDS build their first outreach education center for homeless and disadvantaged youth.

The menus were introduced in south Florida at Lucille’s American Café (http://www.lucillescafe.com) in Weston on Valentine’s Day. Proprietor Paul Nunez said they were an instant hit.

“Customers love the menus,” Nunez said. “They are different, fun, and they show how much we care about kids and the community. It’s a great feeling to see kids and parents talking, sharing and getting along better than ever. It’s terrific to know we’re contributing.”

“Meals are a wonderful moment for meaningful family connections,” said Dr. Gordon. “Relationships thrive when families connect, confide, and solve problems together.”

Dr. Gordon said the menus help kids develop higher self-esteem, stronger family ties, and greater emotional understanding.

“Communications is key,” she said. “The exercises give youngsters a better chance of becoming happy, healthy, and successful. When kids are connected to caring adults, they are less likely to engage in dangerous behaviors. As we see all too often, these can be life and death issues.”

The initial series includes six menus that focus on communications, problem solving and emotional development said Seth Eisenberg, executive director of 411-KIDS. Eisenberg said he is pleased to see the menus helping youngsters become comfortable talking about feelings.

“Many children are raised with the message that they shouldn’t talk about their feelings, especially negative emotions ... that those feelings should somehow be stuffed inside."

"One way or another,” Eisenberg said, “feelings and the energy they carry come out. When negative feelings are held in, they get stronger.”

Dr. Gordon agreed. “When negative emotions are held in, we often see depression, disease and, in the worst cases, self-destruction. When these emotions explode outwardly, we can witness anger and hostility toward friends, teachers, siblings, family, and, at the extreme, violence and murder. It’s important for children and adults to develop the ability to comfortably talk about anything, including feelings that aren’t always positive.”

Eisenberg said the idea for the Connect-the-Family menus developed out of a football field conversation about how a diverse group of people could collectively help kids in the community.

“All of us care deeply about helping children,” Eisenberg said. “This project has given all of us the chance to contribute in a way that makes a real difference,” he said. He then pointed to a sign above his desk with a quote from Mother Teresa.

The sign reads: “What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”

For more information, visit http://www.411kids.org/menus.htm, e-mail kidsmenus@411kids.org, or call (877) KID-MENU.

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Rabbi Morris Gordon, chairman of the PAIRS Foundation, is encouraging restaurant proprietors to help strengthen families by offering “Connect-the-Family” menus to their patrons with children.Rabbi Morris Gordon, chairman of the PAIRS Foundation, is encouraging restaurant proprietors to help strengthen families by offering “Connect-the-Family” menus to their patrons with children.Image of Morris Gordon, chairman of the PAIRS Foundation, Weston, Florida.411-KIDS Connect-the-Family kids menus are helping youngsters raise their EQ during meal time and volunteers fundraise to help homeless, disadvantaged and at-risk youth. Menu activities were developed by psychologist Lori Gordon.411-KIDS Connect-the-Family kids menus are helping youngsters raise their EQ during meal time and volunteers fundraise to help homeless, disadvantaged and at-risk youth. Menu activities were developed by psychologist Lori Gordon.Logo of 411-KIDS organization in jpg format, includes web address text.In this sample 411-KIDS “Connect-the-Family” activity, youngsters learn to talk about feelings by coloring the picture and sharing it with a parent.In this sample 411-KIDS “Connect-the-Family” activity, youngsters learn to talk about feelings by coloring the picture and sharing it with a parent.Image of backpage of sample kids menu. For more information, see http://www.411kids.org/menus.htm.Money raised from sales of  "Connect-the-Family" menus are helping 411-KIDS Youth Ambassadors organize clubs to promote volunteer and prevention programs in schools.Money raised from sales of "Connect-the-Family" menus are helping 411-KIDS Youth Ambassadors organize clubs to promote volunteer and prevention programs in schools.Sample certificate given by 411-KIDS to Youth Ambassadors who are responsible for organizing school programs.Mom and kids enjoy good times during a “Connect-the-Family” afternoon snack at Lucille’s American Café in Weston.Mom and kids enjoy good times during a “Connect-the-Family” afternoon snack at Lucille’s American Café in Weston.Picture of mother and elementary age children at Lucille's Cafe (Weston, FL).Sara says she likes Connect-the-Family time because it gets mom to tell her everything she did good!Sara says she likes Connect-the-Family time because it gets mom to tell her everything she did good!Young girl gives comments about "Connect-the-Family" exercises at Lucille's Cafe (Weston, FL).While she was waiting for her corndog, Sally drew a picture of her “emotional jug” and told mom about the feelings she had inside.While she was waiting for her corndog, Sally drew a picture of her “emotional jug” and told mom about the feelings she had inside.Picture of young girl talking about "Connect-the-Family" exercise at Lucille's Cafe (Weston, FL).