I’d like to start out by saying thank you. Finding this webpage means that you have made strengthening your character and that of those around you an important goal for yourself. And to me, that means the world. After reading this letter, you’ll have a better idea of why.
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen; Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen;
But do you recall? The most famous reindeer of all: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!
Everyone knows the song, and many children can relate to the way that Rudolph was treated by his fellow reindeer in the first part of the song. Unfortunately, many of the children who are targets of bullying don’t get the happy ending that Rudolph does.
“There is a clear and urgent need, as young people increasingly hurt themselves and others because of unawareness of and/or indifference to moral values.”
– Thomas Lickona, “Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect And Responsibility”, 1991
Almost three decades have gone by and this quote is never more true than it is today. Like so many children in the country today, I was a target of bulling in elementary school. The bullying was so bad that I switched schools before my 8th grade year. After seven years of being treated that way, I could not handle even one more year of being invisible.
My new school was everything my old school was not. When I switched schools, my mother found the Character Council and used their resources – some of which are still available on our website today – to start a character education program at my new school. The difference in my experiences at these schools is like night and day. I was accepted for who I was; I had real friends who cared about me; I had teachers who challenged me; I was involved in my school and felt like I belonged.
My story, like Rudolph’s, has a happy ending. My passion for this cause is not just personal. I hope you watch the news as much as I do, and that you see the growing statistic of children who are bullied at their schools, and the stories that come after. Sometimes, these children get a university to rally behind them and show some amazing support for that child that lets them know that they are cared for in this world. But more and more often, we see the opposite story, of how a child could no longer endure.
Character education is the answer to this crisis. In addition to shifting a culture to be a kinder and more caring environment, schools with successful character education programs have higher graduation rates, have lower employee turnover rates, suspension and discipline referral rates drop, grades improve, and the school becomes a place where people want to be. This has a positive effect on the surrounding communities as well.
The Character Quality of the Month for December is Generosity, which we define as “managing resources to freely give”. This is fitting given that this is the season of giving. It is also one of my favorite qualities to study. There are so many things that we can give to one another: time, talent, treasure. My favorite supporting statement for this is ‘praise the qualities I see in others”, and we are offering a unique opportunity for you to do just that.
This season I’m asking that you give the gift of character. To stand up and say that character starts with me. When you give to the Character Council, you are supporting the positive culture change that our schools, and our world, need so badly. Enclosed is a certificate you can include in a card or wrap up for someone and let them know that character, like theirs, needs to be celebrated. A perfect gift for the person who has everything, or the person who is so difficult to shop for! Give them “The Gift of Character” this year.
To give “The Gift of Character”, simply fill out the enclosed donation form with the recipient’s name and your donation. You can include the gift certificate in a holiday card or wrap it up in a nice box for them to open. We also have set up a special online donation page where you can securely give with Paypal on our website at www.CharacterCincinnati/Giving.
We look forward to celebrating 20 years of character development in 2020, and hope you’ll join us as we celebrate! Include your email address with your donation so you don’t miss a thing. Again, thank you for making character an important aspect of your life. I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday season.
P.S. Join us in our Kinder Character Challenge in 2020! Each week, receive a suggestion of a kind act to complete, and log your kind act for a chance to win prizes. By participating in this challenge, you’ll make kindness a habit in your life – and inspire those around you to kinder acts as well. Sign up before January 1, 2020 and receive a Founder’s Badge. To find out more or sign up, visit www.CharacterCincinnati.org/kcc2020