A Warm Welcome from the Kids EQ Team

KidsEQ is a children’s media company whose mission is to promote Emotional Literacy at home and in schools.

The late Ayman Sawaf was a trailblazer in the field of Emotional Literacy and co-founder of Feel.org, a non-profit advocating for Emotional Literacy in education, which later merged with 6second.org. Together with wife and partner, Rowan Gabrielle, they formed a diverse, global team, united by a passion for empowering families and educators with the tools needed for emotional understanding.

We’re community builders, compassionate coaches, creative writers and changemakers on a mission to create a conscious space where the transformative power of understanding and expressing emotions illuminates the path toward a more emotionally intelligent future.

Ayman’s Story

“I started in the lighting business, and moved to the
enlightening business.” ~ Ayman Sawaf

1970’s: With one degree in Industrial Engineering and another in Business, Ayman Sawaf was by modern standards a hugely successful entrepreneur with a thriving business manufacturing lighting, with showrooms across the entire Middle East. Life was apparently good for Ayman, his wife and two young sons.

1980’s: Five years after Ayman moved his family to England, in the mid 1980s, he went through a midlife crisis that turned his world upside down. After getting divorced, Ayman was diagnosed with cancer and told he had just six months to live. Accepting his fate and believing he was going to die he took himself off to a white sandy beach on a remote island in Thailand.

But something magical happened. Something that changed not only his life, but the lives of children around the world. This remarkable change was the driving force behind what would become Kids EQ.

Despite being highly educated and accomplished in the external world, Ayman realized he knew nothing about himself and through a series of serendipitous events that led to a spiritual awakening, he found himself on a journey into his internal world. Being the highly focused man he was, he delved deeply into mapping out this inner world, discovering, processing and healing a lifetime of emotions that had not been dealt with.

Ayman spent the six months he’d been given to live addressing and clearing these suppressed emotions and at his six month check-up his doctors were surprised to see his cancer was nowhere to be found, claiming he must have been ‘mis-diagnosed’.

This was a pivotal moment for Ayman. Reflecting on how different his life might have been if he’d been taught about emotions as a child, he made it one of his life’s missions to bring Emotional Literacy to as many children as possible, with a vision of it being as mainstream as academic literacy.

“This may be the first time your kids experience awe watching a movie” ~ Joanna Connors, Cleveland Plain Dealer

The Early Days of Kids EQ

Combining his business background and commercial expertise with his new found awareness of emotions, Ayman set up Enchanté Entertainment (now Kids EQ), a media business that would bring the message of Emotional Literacy to the world.

Ayman started with two films; Magic Boat in 1987 and Palooka in 1988, both finding global success at film festivals, winning multiple awards and garnering critical acclaim.

The films didn’t get syndicated for the American market prompting Ayman to move into creating TV shows.

In 1992, Ayman joined forces with Keven Ryerson and Shelly Duvall in creating Shelley Duvall’s Bedtime Stories, a 13 part series, narrated by some of the biggest names in showbiz: Bette Midler, Ringo Starr, Dudley Moore, John Candy, Sissy Spacek and James Earl Jones. The show won the CableACE Award for Outstanding Children’s Programming and TV Guide’s Parent’s Choice Award.

Following on from the success of Bedtime Stories, they created Mrs Piggle-Wiggle (1994), a 13 episode TV series about a woman who helps cure kids of improper behavior, such as telling fibs, neglecting pets and talking back to their elders. It was the 1995 winner of the WGA Award from the Writers Guild of America and was nominated in three categories for the CableACE Awards.

Enchanté also created Channel Umptee-3 with Disney animator Jim Gorge, which aired on The WB and HBO from 1997 to 1998, a 13 part series teaching kids the wonders of everyday things, such as sleep and water.

A New Education Paradigm

Ayman’s original vision was to create a new schooling system that would have emotions sitting alongside, and with equal importance to, academics. His mentor questioned if this was necessary and Ayman realized creating a program that could be integrated into existing schools would be easier to achieve and have a much larger impact. Ayman invested over $1M of his own money to bring together a group of experts; writers, therapists, art therapists, childhood development experts and education design specialists to create an Emotional Literacy program for schools, aimed at children aged 4-11. This program became the 21 book series which is still selling today.

A Love Story

When Rowan met Ayman in 1992, his passion and dedication to bringing Emotional Literacy to the world was one of the things she fell in love with. They moved to the United States in 1993 where the Emotional Literacy series sold over 250,000 sets in bookshops across the country. With a shared vision for an emotionally literate world they founded feel.org, a non profit which later merged with 6seconds.org. For two years feel.org sent newsletters to every psychology department in the States and to numerous therapists, with the goal of raising awareness and making Emotional Literacy a mainstream term.

 

Despite all this effort Ayman became frustrated with their lack of progress. With Emotional Literacy an unknown term, raising funds and getting people on board with his vision was challenging. In a bid to change this Ayman hired
Dr. Robert K. Cooper to ghostwrite a business book highlighting the value of Emotional Intelligence in the workplace. Ayman’s original plan was to self publish the book and send a copy to every CEO in America, believing if he could show CEOs the importance of Emotional Literacy they would donate to feel.org.

Cooper’s exceptional work on the book made Ayman realize he couldn’t take sole credit, leading to an agreement they would be co-authors. Neither of them could foresee where this alliance would lead when Cooper submitted the book to his publisher. 

Published in 1998 Executive EQ, Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Organizations took on a life of its own, becoming an international bestseller, with one of the largest business book advances of its time. It was published by Putnam in the US and Penguin in the UK before being translated into 17 languages and sold across 28 countries. Today universities and key institutions around the world continue to endorse the book as an essential resource. 

On 19th November 2000 in conjunction with The Mayor of Los Angeles “Emotional Literacy Day” was inaugurated in the state of California. Kids EQ dreams of a global Emotional Literacy Day in our future.

In 2000 Ayman and Rowan changed their focus and bought the Whole Life Expo, a large trade show company in the US.

Through his work with 6seconds.org and his keynote appearances at global Emotional Intelligence conferences, Ayman continued raising awareness throughout the 2000s and 2010s about the need for Emotional Literacy.

Kids EQ Today

As a society we’ve been slowly waking up to the need for more emotionally intelligent ways of living. The increased cases of abuse, depression, guilt, etc. during the Covid pandemic highlighted this even more, resulting in more people talking openly about emotions and a raised awareness of the need for emotional intelligence.

Ayman passed away in 2022, but through the hard work, challenges and frustrations he faced over the 30 years of bringing Emotional Literacy to the world, he has created a rich legacy.

While settling Ayman’s estate Rowan re-acquired the remaining inventory of the original 21 book series. With the inventory languishing in a warehouse, Rowan had a fire in her belly to see these beautiful books out in the world, so she started donating sets to non-profit organizations, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and several therapists, with over 12,000 books being donated in 2022. With the energy ignited, enquiries started coming in from people wanting to buy the books.

With Ayman’s rich legacy at its heart, Rowan has brought together an international team of entrepreneurs, executives, therapists and writers, many of whom knew Ayman, with a joint vision of evolving Kids EQ to reach a broader audience. Our dream is for Emotional Literacy to be available in multiple languages, making it as widely accessible as humanly possible.

Rowan Gabrielle

CEO, Co-Founder

Rowan is a venture catalyst; consistently investing in, and developing new thought IPs, and catalyzing change in the lives of people and projects she works on. She and Ayman spent their 30 years together developing blueprints to empower the evolution of humanity which she is now focused on bringing to the world.  Emotional Literacy is at the heart of that and her mission is to bring these tools to the masses. 

With a background in Production, from TV and video to festivals and books, she has built a strong foundation of diverse experience and knowledge all of which has prepared her to be ready to take KIDS EQ to the next level.

Warren Berkholtz

COO/Business Manager

Warren has over 40 years experience in Business,  co-founding 2 successful technology start-ups and holding a VP position in a F-500 company involving business in 40 counties. He has a BSME from M.S.O.E.

Jeremy Koester, M.Ed.

Chief Community Builder

Jeremy has been facilitating play based shadow work and games for learning for over 15 years. After teaching middle and high school for over 12 years and raising three amazing kids, Jeremy found his passion in developing a ‘Communities of Practice’ for wellness and learning of all kinds. His own personal transformation and his work in the field of human development bring a unique skill set to lead the KidsEQ team in establishing and growing a meaningful, heart-centered Community of peer-to-peer learning to build Emotional Literacy in individuals and families. 

Samer Bou Ghader

Strategy and Implementation 

Samer lived with Ayman and Rowan during the last year of Ayman’s life and has a deep understanding of their work from his own personal experience of it. He is responsible for making sure our company is always using best practice tools. He has a firm grip on current and up and coming technologies and is always learning – Samer is a true jack of all trades, turning his talent to whatever is needed, a key player for this start up.

Peter Santosh

Chief Marketing Officer

With degrees in Computer Science and Psychology, Peter worked for Scottish Power & Thales Avionics in roles ranging from sales & marketing to analytics and engineering before moving to Yell in 2007 where he underwent their world-renowned sales training, maintaining a top sales position at the company for three years. 

Five years ago, Peter started his own company, with a focus on overcoming the inevitable frustrations of start ups and technology changes. He created the PSS method (psychology, sales & SEO), a solution which gives a common foundational framework to follow and tie all things marketing together. Over the last ten years he has been honing skills in Planning, Strategy Mapping, Backlog Building, Software Integrations. Peter builds Web Architecture to make real marketing & business come to life and support companies reaching and hopefully surpassing their objectives/targets.

Dr Lucy Anna Rhoades

Content Writer

With an honors degree in Journalism Lucy worked for many years in print and television journalism including at the BBC. She Holds a PhD and two Masters in sociology, social research and cultural theory with a focus on childhood. She is a qualified Therapist and Coach who ran a professional practice in Australia for many years. Lucy has been a content writer and editor for a wide range of clients including the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.

Tameeza Samji

Psy.D.  Content Developer

Tameeza earned her Doctorate in Clinical and Transpersonal Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, on top of a Master’s Degree from the London School of Economics and a dual major undergraduate degree in Canada.  She brings with her more than 18 years of experience working as a therapist.  She prioritizes how people work within relationships and understands individual needs and situations.  She provides concrete tools to help clients reach their goals of mental well-being.  She uses mindfulness, CBT, and psychodynamic and humanistic approaches to provide quick symptom relief. 

Hilary Thain 

Writer / Social Media

Currently halfway through a Creative Writing Undergraduate Degree, Hilary is pursuing a career in writing that is still evolving. Driven by a deep sense of purpose and a perpetual curiosity about everything, she is committed to exploring how she can utilise her writing to help others find their way. She has a gift for streamlining information to make it readily understandable.

Contributors

The Original Emotional Literacy series creators:

Series Concept: Ayman Sawaf, Kevin Ryerson,
Parent Guide author: Illene Dillon,
Producer: Gudran Hoy,
Advisors: Sirah Vettes, Harold Bloomfield,
Art Therapist: Liz Farrington

Story Book Illustrators:
Heather Preston
Hui HanLiu
Jaclyne Scardova
Jeremy Thornton
Brain McGovern
J Douglas Moran

Activity Book Illustrator:
Tina Cash

Story Book writers:
Jennifer C Weil
Leslie McGuire
Susan Goldman Rubin
Jonathan Sherwood

Other contributors:
Joe Geus, Linda Robinson