Mesa teen, dad create pandemic coping game The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa teen, dad create pandemic coping game

January 15th, 2021 Mesa Tribune Staff
Mesa teen, dad create pandemic coping game

By Staci Hauk
Tribune Contributor

The teen years can be challenging enough but when coupled with the pandemic’s impact on routines and the lack of social, educational and emotional opportunities, you have a recipe for depression and anxiety.

Enter 13-year-old Nevaeh Gable of Mesa and her father Dennis Gable, who created a card game that addresses the common issues that teens are facing in these unconventional times.

52 Card Pick Me Up is a colorful and fun way to identify feelings, needs, actions and affirmations that are oftentimes overlooked.

Each deck includes four actions (affirm, act, feel, need) with 13 corresponding words. This game can be used individually or with family or a partner with the goal of exploring areas of life and bringing participants to deeper relationships, inner peace and balance.

“My dad got the idea for this game from his client – she had notecards with words on her desk and he pulled out the ones that resonated, which gave him the idea for a card game,” Nevaeh explained.

“He told me about his idea and how it could benefit me and others like me and we proceeded to sit down and discuss the content,” she continued. We brainstormed the words we’d use and afterwards, I created the designs, further adapting the game from there.”

The card game is structured to help kids and adults address positive and negative emotions.

Nevaeh said participants get a “boost of positive energy” and that the game can “be used to reduce conflict and make relationships go smoother within your own home.”

“The game cleverly uses thought provoking cards as well, because humans are complicated and feelings of anxiousness, anger and a need for solitude are not only okay; they are normal,” she said.

She said the cards identify emotions participants might be feeling at the time and provides suggestions on how to deal with them.

“There truly aren’t any rules, but I prefer to lay all the cards out, face down and pick one from each category,” Nevaeh said. “Then, I’ll flip them over and see if they resonate. If they do, I’ll keep them close until I feel I’ve done what I need to with them. Only then, can I redraw.”

Nevaeh is in eighth grade at Centennial Middle School in Ahwatukee and, like many East Valley youngsters, has had to confront a schedule in which classrooms aren’t always open for in-school learning.

“It has been really difficult for my daughter,” her father said.

“As a 13-year-old girl, she’s stir-crazy and misses interaction with her friends greatly. We have had to change a lot of our hobbies as a family as well, some for the better, but most of the changes include not being around many people and she’s definitely a socialite, so it’s rough.

“As a parent, it’s hard to watch the struggle, but we’re both grateful for tools like ‘52 Card Pick Me Up’ that help us to identify and clearly communicate some of our struggles,” Dennis said. 

Added Nevaeh: “The pandemic has meant being in the same house with the same people, having no place to escape to, for almost a year. It took a toll on the relationship I had with my parents. I felt isolated and alone, causing anxiety and depression.”

But, she added, “With the game now at my side, I can at least be aware of what I’m feeling and some of the simple ways I can help myself. I am not ‘fixed’ but I am aware and therein lies the power.” 

Dennis admits he has battled anxiety himself and thinks the game helps people tackle important topics.

“As a man who has had to overcome quite a few hardships, I have allowed my own journey of mental and emotional health to drive the development of tools for others to use,” he said.

In 2012, he launched an app called VLNRABLE which was redesigned and updated during the pandemic.

In 2018 he started a podcast called “Self to Society” that is dedicated to “these experiences we face,” he said.

“‘52 Card Pick Me Up’ was an opportunity for us to create a physical product and as an entrepreneur myself, it is something I wanted Nevaeh to get a taste of at a young age,” he said.

“Anxiety and depression are likely the two most prevalent for parents. Anxiety is simply stated as a visceral response to the unknown, and there is certainly a lot of unknowns we’re facing every day.

“I hope this game opens up an evolving dialogue. Many parents feel so lost in trying to communicate with their teenagers and there is beauty in willingness to find common ground.”


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