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  • Tanis Browning-Shelp

High Anxiety


My last Facebook post featured my visit with Mr. Borrens’ grade six English class (at Hopewell Avenue Public School) to talk about writing books like Crash Course and Crushed. Now I want to share what I learned from these amazing students when we discussed the theme of competition in the Maryn O’Brien series.

More than three quarters of these kids said that they were enrolled in at least one competitive pursuit. Given that fact, the list of pros and cons they generated about the theme of competition was an eye opener for me, especially since Maryn (the hero of my books) is such a fierce competitor.

While they did come up with one or two pros, their list of cons was extensive and the details revealing. They talked about stress, tension, pressure, anxiety, injury, demands on life/school, and about bad feelings resulting from tryouts and poor performance/loss.

Mr. Borrens and I, both with backgrounds in competition, spoke to the flip side of many of the perceived cons. But that doesn’t change the fact that so many negative thoughts and feelings flowed from this group of fabulous kids like a free and flowing river!

I felt good knowing that they could relate to Maryn’s anxiety and that this series can stimulate such meaningful discussion around that.

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