They come in different shapes and sizes. Just like us. Each one has some type of imperfection. Just like us. And they all have a story to tell. Just like us.
Fourteen-year-old Eliott Gentle’s sock puppets – or little monsters as he likes to call them – are helping others deal with anxiety and other mental health challenges. And they are helping Eliott too.
“I like to design them when I’m feeling anxious or sad,” he explains. “I like to have them with me.” Each puppet comes with a tag that shares the puppet’s name, favourite colour, what it’s afraid of and what it wants to be when it grows up.
Eliott is using his talents to sew (with a little help from his mom Maria) and sell sock puppets to raise money for CHEO. “The idea kept growing and it’s turned into a small business,” says Eliott. “I started selling the puppets to family and friends, and then at the hospital and now even at our local pharmacy. People tell me they are happy I am helping out.”
Eliott says he is happy to give back to CHEO. “They help me with different strategies to cope with stress , fear and anxiety. They help me with simple instructions for when I have to do something hard or if I’m not sure how to do it.” He continues to visit CHEO once or twice a month.
“Eliott has dealt with many challenges from a learning disability to bullying,” explains Maria. “He has handled this very well through the years. He knows that if something isn’t working, you have to make a change.”
This summer, Eliott worked as a junior counsellor at the Pawsitively Pets Kids Camp where he has swapped sock puppets for exotic lizards and snakes – but just for a few weeks. He says he plans to get back to making more puppets very soon.