Update: Former Varner Student Now a Published Author


You may recall the story about Varner Elementary’s remarkable fifth-grader, Ta’kari Tatum. You can find it here and an earlier article about another of his projects here. Ta’kari has remained busy in 2023, doing what he can to help promote mental health. His latest endeavor is his most personal: an illustrated autobiography about his own struggles with mental health connected to his grandfather’s death.

Ta’kari’s book, Snap It, is available everywhere great books are sold. It can be found on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. According to the back cover information, Snap It is 

an insightful and moving autobiography about young Ta’kari Tatum with his family, trying to process the death of Ta’kari’s beloved grandfather, Rudy. The two did everything together. They went to the beach, went on a family vacation, and enjoyed spending time at Ta’kari’s baseball games. One day Grandpa got very ill, and young Ta’kari had to watch his grandfather slowly die. This put stress and anxiety on Ta’kari and the rest of the family. Snap It unfolds Ta’kari’s journey through mental health. See how he deals with the mental strain placed on his family and him. How will he overcome his mental illness? Ta’kari says, “Snap It and Breathe!”


An inventor, philanthropist, and now an author, Ta’kari is one motivated and inspiring kid. He will start middle school next school year, so his journey is only beginning. His fifth-grade teacher, Laurie Mendenhall, has been one of his greatest supporters and a vocal advocate for Ta’kari and his projects. She was with him and his family recently as Ta’kari was recognized by the Cobb County Commissioners and as he made a local media tour to get the word out about his book.

Snap It is a written version of a project Ta’kari founded before writing the book. His organization and website are called The Rubber Band Mentality, and they create rubber band bracelets designed to be snapped against the wrist of the wearer when they are having a rough time. The snap is to divert the attention for a moment and remind the wearer to breathe deeply and get back to a calm, cool, and collected state. Last month, Ta’kari explained the bracelets to Gayle King on the CBS Morning News.

In addition, Ta’kari was featured on 11Alive, when representatives from the Atlanta Hawks showed up to his house to purchase 50 copies of the book for local youth organizations. He is the youngest winner of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Youth Leadership Award for the state of Georgia. He has also received a four-year scholarship offer for future education, and he’s not yet in middle school!


“His story is extraordinary; he is always smiling while serving others,” said his proud teacher, Ms. Mendenhall. “I can’t say enough about this young man with a strong character, motivation, self-determination, and desire to make the world a better place. His story makes me smile, and I continue to be proud of him every day. Ta’kari Tatum is a superior individual with an ever-growing bright future!”


Way to go, Ta’kari! That’s how we do it in Cobb! We know we will be hearing many more great things from you, and we look forward to what’s ahead...