Using illustration to help deliver an important message to kids.

Yell and Tell Foundation Child Safety Book Series

Yell and Tell Foundation mascot Squawk the parrot

For the past couple of years, I have been involved with a wonderful charity called Yell and Tell. It was developed by Jean Davidson, the granddaughter of Walter Davidson, one of the four founders and first president of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company. Rather than join the family business, Jean chose to dedicate her life to teaching children.

Jean’s four year old grandson, Ryder, died in a tragic accident that might have been prevented if only his playmate standing nearby had known how to react.


Ryder was playing with two neighbor boys who were four and eight years old near a ditch filled with water. Both of the four year old boys fell in. The eight year old boy didn’t yell, HELP!, but became paralyzed with fear, knowing they had disobeyed their parents’ rules to stay away from the irrigation ditch. He got scared and ran home. If he would have yelled HELP!, Ryder’s father, who was close by, would have heard him and could have saved both the little boys.

In her grief, Jean learned of other families who experienced other similar preventable tragedies. Drawing on her years of teaching in elementary schools, Jean decided to do something that might make a difference. She developed a program for young children called Yell and Tell. It is her vision that all young children learn how to be responsible and proactive if they perceive a dangerous situation.

To date, the Yell and Tell program has reached over 200,000 children in 45 states and 4 countries. As of today, over 40 children are known to have used Yell and Tell to save a life or prevent a dangerous situation from becoming worse.

Jean built her teaching curriculum around a character named Squawk. Squawk is a parrot who is the Yell and Tell spokesman. My work with Jean began when she needed to come up with a parrot character in the poses that represented the core skills of Yell and Tell: See it. Feel it. Yell, and Tell!






Using the Squawk character, Jean devised a series of Yell and Tell educational teaching plans with children’s activity books and instructive classroom posters using the Yell and Tell characters. She also wrote a comprehensive Teacher Resource Manual packaged with a companion interactive teaching DVD.

The first lesson is about water safety. It addresses the drowning issue that so impacted the Davidson family and inspired Jean to dedicate herself to teaching child safety through Yell and Tell.

Jean and I agreed animals would best teach young children the lesson of Yell and Tell.  These are some of the initial pencil sketches of the mouse characters featured in the water safety module in the Yell and Tell series.


Yell and Tell water safety module pencils


These sketches are the basis for a simple and easy to understand lesson strip.


Yell and Tell water safety module sketches inked Yell and Tell water safety lesson - full color


Over the years, Yell and Tell has expanded the scope of its child safety education to include potential threats involving swimming pools, fire, poison, guns and child enticement.


Yell and Tell fire safety moduleYell and Tell poison safety moduleYell and Tell gun safety moduleYell and Tell child enticement safety module


Please visit the Yell and Tell website, share the link with friends and families with small children, and donate what you can to this most worthy cause.

Jean spends most of the year on the road visiting classrooms and youth groups around the globe to teach children to Yell and Tell. It is her goal to establish Yell and Tell as part of the early childhood curriculum in all schools and youth organizations, empowering young kids with skills to protect themselves and their peers and potentially save lives.


Yell and Tell mascot Squawk on Harley-Davidson motorcycle



2 Responses to “Using illustration to help deliver an important message to kids.”

  1. Mikey P says:

    What a great insight into developing characters and strips. And a good cause as well.
    Good job Karl.

  2. Jeff Haig says:

    As a retired police officer once very active in Crime Prevention, I can appreciate the uniqueness and effectiveness of this simple program. Besides saving lives in instant situations, the broader lesson of taking responsibility for other’s safety is invaluable.

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