Elementary school student commended by Cobb commissioners for nationally-recognized mental health project

A young man holding a certificate with Commissioner Monique SheffieldTa’Kari Tatum and Commissioner Monique Sheffield (screenshot from video by Larry Felton Johnson)

At the Tuesday evening meeting of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners, 11-year-old Ta’Kari Tatum, a student at Cobb County’s Varner Elementary School in Powder Springs, was honored for his community service project highlighting mental health.

At the urging of his teacher, Laurie Mendenhall, Tatum created a community service project focused on mental health, inspired by the experiences of his favorite athletes, Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka.

Another influence leading to the project was that during the COVID pandemic, Tatum noticed changes in his classmates’ behavior.

He also experienced the loss of his grandfather and aunt.


In order to cope with his personal feelings, he started to make rubber band bracelets, which he called “Snap It”, and has distributed them across the country in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, New York, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Alabama and Florida, raising over $1200 for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

He also published a book titled “Snap It”, an autobiography about processing the death of his beloved grandfather.

“Every person wearing a bracelet will be honoring mental health and also knows that mental health matters,” Ta’Kari said, quoted in the BOC agenda item about his project.

“Ta’Kari wants others to know that snapping your bracelet is a reminder to calm down and take a deep breath,” the agenda item continues.

After receiving the commendation from the commissioners, Tatum said, “I would like to thank everybody in this room, especially my loving family, my Grandma, my father, and most importantly my teacher Ms. Laurie Mendenhall for helping me get this through the beginning.”

In addition to the commendation from the Cobb Board of Commissioners, Tatum received Georgia’s Gifted Student of the Year award for his work, and has served as a national spokesperson for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). 

Watch the Video