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CD theme: Kids can be what they want to be

A Davis Islands couple has spent thousands of dollars to create an interactive CD of children's games.

© St. Petersburg Times
published July 12, 2002

Sheree Slone loved to listen to positive affirmation tapes while driving in her car. The daily affirmations lifted her spirits and left her optimistic.

But then her 8-year-old son, Samuel, began repeating the words, too.

"I am naturally enlightened," he would say.

Or, "I love myself today more than yesterday."

She was struck with an idea as if hit by a bolt of lightning.

"I was in my 40s, and I was just learning about self-affirmation," says Slone, 47. "What would happen if we could all learn this at an early age?"

So began a series of events leading to the creation and self-publication of Slone's interactive computer CD filled with games for children -- The One and Only Me!

Its mantra: Children can be anything they want to be.

"Our futures are limitless if we just tap into ourselves," Slone says. "We have all the tools we need for success."

Slone, trained as a nurse, knew little about computers. But she was determined to make the venture a success. Her husband, Fred Slone, a gastroenterologist, was behind her 100 percent.

A chance meeting put her in touch with Sara Diehr, an 11-year-old aspiring singer, who sings the CD's theme song and narrates many of the games.

Slone found an artist proficient in computer animation, a studio musician ready and willing to write music to accompany her lyrics and a software programmer to write the games.

Her son and his friends brainstormed on the types of games kids would love to play. They all sang in a chorus, and Samuel is the voice of Spike the Mouse.

Although the Slones spent thousands of dollars on The One and Only Me! CD, they say they are donating proceeds to children's charities.

The Children's Cancer Center will sell the CD as part of its annual holiday fundraising event. Each year the nonprofit organization produces a calendar and holiday cards featuring artwork created by children with cancer or chronic blood disorders and their families. The items go on sale after Labor Day.

"We thought it was a good quality educational tool for children," says Leanne Overstreet, administrative director of the Children's Cancer Center.

"It's motivational," she says.

The CDs are also for sale for $14.95 at Inkwood Books, 216 S Armenia Ave., with a portion of the proceeds going to the Children's Cancer Center.

The Slones gave more than 100 CDs to their son's school, Academy of Holy Names, to send home with families.

Samuel was awarded the Academy of Holy Names' Positive Action Student Award last year, and a classmate who helped work on the CD was given the award the following quarter.

"If I can help one child actually feel better and smile, then it will all have been worth it," Slone says. She refers to her brand of positive thinking as "wisdom of the ages" rather than New Age.

The project opened doors for the South Tampa native and Davis Islands resident.

She's now collaborating with others on two projects, a book for adults, titled Moondance to Eternity: Struggling to Understand Death and Dying, and a children's story, Moon Over Dolphin Lagoon.

"This is my gift to humanity," Slone says. "To help build self-confidence and self-esteem in our children."

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