Jason Fruth: The Tootle trainer

By Rob Treynor

March 21, 2014

“This isn’t warm, fuzzy, feel-good stuff. This is psychology.”

Jason Fruth, Ph.D., assistant professor in Wright State’s Department of Education, spoke to community leaders and citizens on the afternoon of Thursday, March 20. The purpose of his visit was to help get the ball rolling on the Community PAX program.

The PAX program, already implemented in many schools throughout the county, also has proven to be beneficial among adults. Community PAX is being promoted locally by the Madison County Department of Family & Children, in partnership with the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Clark, Greene & Madison Counties and Wright State University.

PAX is Latin for peace, health, happiness and productivity.

“PAX is the thing and the feeling we all need more of,” Fruth said.

“That feeling you get when you watch those YouTube videos of soldiers returning home to surprise their family — that’s the kind of feeling we need more of in our homes and in our workplaces,” Fruth said.

Community PAX’s primary components are called “Tootles.” Tootles are handwritten notes of appreciation one personally delivers to a co-worker, family member, or acquaintance.

Tootles increases those positive feelings (PAX), simply by writing down positive behavior one has witnessed, and sharing that paper with the person exhibiting the behavior.

“A single slip of paper from a teacher to a student, written about something positive, improves the child’s ability better than a visit to a mental health therapist,” Sherry Baldwin, of Madison County Family & Children First Council, said.

“This isn’t just for kids,” Fruth said. “This is for us. We can impact how our relationships in the community work.”

According to Fruth, humans will increase the behaviors that are reinforced. Tootles reinforce positive, “pro-social” behaviors.

“By identifying and recognizing pro-social behaviors, we increase the deeds and actions we want more of,” Fruth said. Fruth called attention to Phat Daddy’s Pizza in London, where the usage of Tootles has been part of the company’s game plan for over a year, with “beneficial” results.

To learn more about the Community PAX program, visit for more information on the research behind the PAX principles.

Rob Treynor can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 19 or via Twitter @RobTreynor.