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Elementary students in Gladstone relax with stuffed snake; nine more being made

After meeting John Wetten Principal Wendy Wilson at a winter craft market, artisan Casey Walker learned about the school's Regulation Room, where students learn to manage anxiety, stress and other strong emotions.

COURTESY PHOTO - Artist Casey Walker, left, presents John Wetten Principal Wendy Wilson with Rupert, a healing snake, to calm students in the school's Regulation Room.That gave Walker the idea of creating "healing snakes," cuddly cloth creatures designed to comfort children in schools, hospitals and trauma centers. Walker's project began with the creation of Rupert, now one of the calming strategies Wetten students can choose in the Regulation Room.

Last month's $1,000 grant from Alain Bally, a board member on the Awesome Foundation's Portland chapter, paved the way for more healing snakes. Now Walker is creating nine more, donating them to care centers across the region.

"It's crystal clear that what kids experience today directly affects individual lives and, in the big picture, public life," Walker said. "Targeting stress healing and self regulation is crucial work — visionary work— and I'm deeply pleased to contribute to it."

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