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Life skills are an important part of youth development. We all want our children and mentees to be adequately prepared for the “real” world. Just telling stories about how you were raised or how things were “back in the day,” isn’t enough. Adults have a responsibility to teach and model life skills to children, even as early as toddlers, in order to set the stage for success.
Participating in the culture of home and family life is a fantastic way to introduce children and youth to life skills. For the purpose of this article I am defining the term, children, as those individuals up to the age of 14, and the term, youth, between the ages of 15 and 24. Both children and youth can benefit from home life by participating in household chores, meal planning and establishing family activities and traditions. Toddlers can learn how to clean up after play time. School-age children can help set and clear the table. Middle school children may learn to wash the dishes and care for younger siblings. Whatever family make up and lifestyle you have, the day to day activities will certainly provide good opportunities to teach life skills.
Maximizing Character has had the opportunity to teach life skills in school and community settings in order to help children and youth develop important life skills. Skills such as manners and etiquette, social skills, employability skills and self care have been our organization’s cornerstone of life skills.
We recently had the opportunity to help students develop life skills during Camp Launch at the College of William and Mary. Camp Launch is a two-week residential program for seventh- and eighth-grade students with enrichment and academic opportunities. The children are recruited from school districts around Virginia. They participate in with courses in STEM, writing, and personal development. Maximizing Character has had the pleasure of completing Week one of the personal development classes. Lessons included goal setting, banking and budgeting skills, learning how to manage a budget based on mock careers, salaries and family size and development of a self care plan. The camp participants also completed mock job applications and engaged in role playing interviews using 10 of the most popular interview questions.
During the camp’s personal development course, students also inquired about saving money, how to start businesses, and how businesses and nonprofit organizations compensate themselves and employees. The children wanted to learn more about essential life skills as well as their own career interests. It is imperative that the adults in their lives, be intentional about training and modeling these life skills. We often do not consider certain things or take them for granted. However, in an age where children and youth can easily look up and learn from the internet, television and social media, we want to be sure to equip them with the positive and impactful life lessons and skills they will need to succeed.
Yes, yes, yes! Great observation. Reblogged on Maximizing Character!
Social media – “connecting” you to people on the other side of the world but not in the same room.
When did we start living through a screen? When did we start placing more importance on our social media “presence” than our actual presence? Our filterless, flawless and fabulous selves. Our lying on the couch in our sweatpants eating sour lollies loveable selves. The answer is irrelevant, what matters is where do we go from here? We weren’t taught how to cope with this devotion to self-promotion at school. There was no “how to survive without social media 101” or “how to love and accept yourself as a real person, not a profile 102”.
Do we continue to scroll through mindlessly judging, regretting, wishing and fantasising while staring blankly at a screen? With no external expression of emotion visible beside the occasional LOL from a good meme. We all do it…
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I wake up each day to a beautiful quiet, morning with the joy of a new beginning. I prepare for work and to take my son to school, meditating on God and quickly scanning my memory for the tasks of the day. My son and I make our way downstairs where we gather lunch and a quick snack. I start the coffee and share a short conversation with my husband while he roughhouses our son. Once the coffee is brewed and I grab my travel mug, my son and I are off to school and work.
Depending on the time of year, we clear the foggy windows, covered by the dew, turn on the music, or not, and settle in for the 45 minutes to and hour commute. Sometimes we converse about the day ahead. In typical “Mom” fashion, I share encouraging words with my son or, from time to time, we recap the events from the previous day. During this early morning commute we encounter all types of people, vehicles, behaviors and events: a disabled vehicle, a police bust, impatient and distracted drivers and the, slow-moving, “I’m still not awake,”drivers. Needless to say, even at the start of a new day, courtesy is not at the top of everyone’s daily to-be list.
All seems to be smooth sailing until we approach my son’s school. A magnet high school of almost 2,000 students in an urban community. The school with the highest enrollment in the city becomes a parking lot of sorts just before dawn. We come to a halt as hundreds of cars and a few buses line up to make their way to the front of the school to drop off students. I check the clock on my dashboard. Please Mr. Policeman. Please be on post to direct all of this traffic.
Patience and courtesy are key during this daily exercise. But each day brings a different set of events. School administrators established drop off protocols at the beginning of the school year to address the notorious traffic congestion of the past years. School staff guided us through the school parking lot and waved us along, urging students to get out of the cars to keep the flow of traffic going. After the first two weeks, as parents were just settling into the new pattern, the teachers and staff disappeared. We were left to keep the pattern going with a little assistance at one end of the street from Mr. Policeman.
Each morning I follow the leading of the officer and make my way to the second school entrance for drop off. At this entrance, other students and families are entering from the opposite direction and are at the mercy of the drivers on my side of the road. It is the duty of those on my side of the road to alternate the cars entering the parking lot so that everything moves seamlessly. Unfortunately, that is not what happens. Inevitability traffic is gridlocked; at least for 5 to 10 minutes.
I watch as car after car turns into the second parking lot, the one way into the school lot at this time of day, leaving cars in the opposite direction helpless and backed up to a main highway. A car, three cars ahead of me, pauses to let someone from the other side turn in. “Yes” I cheer in my mind. The car itself proceeds into the lot and the next two cars on my side of the road turn in too. It’s my turn. It would be easy to just turn the corner to keep my side going, but instead, I too pause to let someone else turn in. I smile and look behind to see if others will get it. Nope. Four more cars quickly turn into the parking lot. Finally, I see another pause and turn from the other side.
As we approach the front of the school, my son and I say our goodbyes and well wishes for the day. I notice a few cars deviate from the pattern to cut through traffic only to get stuck by the line of cars pulling up to the drop off points. I observe and move on, letting others drop off their children and wondering to myself, what goes on in people’s minds. I get it, everyone is headed to another destination. However, it’s the start of a new day, another opportunity to shine your light, make a difference, be kind, respectful and responsible. I wonder, as Mr. Policeman waves his fluorescent wand for me to go on my way, what happened to common courtesy?
As we welcomed sweet November last week, we were reminded of how blessed we are to see another month, holiday season and our 5th year of public service as Maximizing Character in the coming year. We decided to celebrate gratitude throughout the month. Gratitude, from the Latin gratus, meaning pleasing or thankful, is a feeling of appreciation. It is often shown through kindness, gifts, help, favors, or other types of generosity.
During the first six days of our Gratitude celebration we were grateful for life, family, opportunities to achieve our goals, our supporters, good teachers and the ability to help others. Imagine life without these things.
As we move forward through the month of November we hope that you will check back and join us as we reflect upon the many wonderful blessings we have to be grateful for. Obviously gratitude is not just a once a month or time of year observation. It is a daily habit that, if exercised, has the potential to bring so much joy into one’s life. So, until we blog again, here’s to Maximizing Character and Gratitude!
Celebrate character with us! During the month of October we focus on bringing awareness to various causes as well as celebrate Character Counts! Week. During CCW2017 we highlight values that we all share called The Six Pillars of Character. The six pillars are; Trustworthiness; Respect; Responsibility; Fairness; Caring; and Citizenship. Each Pillar is consistently identified with a color: Trustworthiness – Blue, Respect – Gold/Yellow, Responsibility – Green, Fairness – Orange, Caring – Red, Citizenship – Purple. YOU can join the celebration by demonstrating these values at home, work and in your communities and by sharing them with others. So c’mon…spread good character all around! #CCWeek2017 #MaximizingCharacter #votd #WhatsGood #CultivatingCharacterMXC #character4life #nonprofit #youth #kids #groups #school #education #community #service #causes #charactereducation
I’ve come to a point in my life where I am learning to value self-care. I’ve also come to realize the value of time, vacations as well as the value of building solid relationships. For years I thought that it was selfish and unproductive for a person to focus on themselves… indulging in weekend getaways, lengthy visits to the spa or salon, shopping sprees, regular Girls Night Outs or simply going off to a quiet place to enjoy a good book, write or enjoy some good, soothing music. I thought, “How can people do those things when there is so much work to do in the world?
I had been told that I was selfish a few times as a teenager and I guess it stuck for about a decade or two. I had also been taught to stay busy… to not just sit and be a spectator but to get involved in life, events and relationships. At church and school I engaged in everything from singing in the choir, ushering and leading the youth group to cheerleading, volunteering and leading my senior class as President. Keeping busy and living a full, productive life was not bad advice, but it’s how a person maintains balance throughout life.
I never really understood why I was this so-called selfish person. The only thing that I can remember about this “selfishness status” was that I recognized early that I wanted a better life for myself. Even after unexpectantly becoming a young, single, mother, I refused to remain on government assistance, accepting the short-term help and then quickly moving on to work three jobs to support my child. As a youth, I pursued education, saved my small allowance to purchase things that I really wanted and later worked part-time so that I could help out at home and still engage in extra-curricular activities. I was always drawn to the finer things in life. Although I could not yet afford many of the things I wanted and my environment was not desirable, I had some very good dreams and goals as a teenager and young adult. Those dreams and goals were my imaginary friends and I could count on them to get me through some tough times. They would wisp me away to other worlds as I read a book or comfort me as I wrote in my journal or listened to music. This, in essence, was my self-care. Somewhere along life’s journey I forgot about them.
I spent years pursuing status, seeking things, helping others, pleasing others and in the meantime, I forgot about how to care for myself. Yes, I obtained the education. Yes, I got married. Yes, I secured the job I desired. Yes, I have two beautiful children. Yes…I have been fulfilled by so many dreams that have come true. However, in the course of obtaining all of those beautiful blessings there were times when I thought I would lose my mind. The busy schedules, the numerous activities, full-time wife and mother, full-time work, full-time school…there were not enough hours in a day to do everything that I felt I needed to do and I had forgotten how to slow down and take care of myself.
Today I find myself looking at life very differently. I appreciate the years of hard work and service to others. I admit…I enjoyed it the intrinsic rewards. I’m not saying that I have simply become a spectator in life. That is far from the truth. I am still young and very involved in life…eager to make my mark in the world. I have, however, learned the art of prioritizing. I focus on my passion to work with youth, teaching them to live with integrity and to create positive change and experiences in their lives and in the lives of others. The best part of this journey is that I have reconnected with the things that provide me the care that I need to thrive and continue to serve others. Music, writing, reading, exercising and spending time and getting away with my family to reconnect and recharge are all a part of my self-care plan. I am experiencing abundant peace and joy.
I love this! It’s a daily struggle but it can be done!
I’m shaking at the prospect
Of trying to deny
My need of certain gimmicks
To make my time pass by
I gaze at sites like E-Bay
Perusing all they’ve got
if I had my fleshly way
I’d go and buy the lot.
Self control is difficult
It’s something I should learn
Just to live within my means
My money not to burn
Store your treasure up above
A cheerful giver be
Peace will reign inside your heart
Just you wait and see.
October was a busy month for many of us including myself. As a nation was celebrated and promoted many important causes including breast cancer awareness, bullying prevention, Character Counts week, Ministers appreciation and a host of other holidays and causes. Maximizing Character participated and supported several events during the month. In addition to supporting other organizations, we engaged in a few activities of our own, in particular, during Character Counts Week (October 20-26, 2013). We had to be creative in our efforts to be actively involved in our community considering the fact that we are a new organization with no budget…yet.
During Character Counts Week we featured the Six Pillars of Character, created by Character Counts founder, Michael Josephson (www.charactercounts.org). Each day Maximizing Character highlighted a pillar of character, its meaning and its designated color on our Facebook and Twitter pages in order to encourage good character among all people. Members of Maximizing Character also wore the designated colors on several days in honor of the week. We participated in our second Girl Talk session and made Flowers for the Causes (check out the blog from earlier this month).
Maximizing Character also celebrated good character throughout the week on social media by featuring individuals and groups in the community that were making their Character Count. My son and Junior Executive Assistant joined The Young Men of Distinction group at his school during Character Counts Week. The program is a mentoring program for boys. Although he is already a kid who possesses good character…okay, I know I’m biased, my son reports that he is committed to the group’s principles including Academics, Discipline, Self-control, Perseverance and Uplift. We also featured my co-worker and her husband who had one of his trucks from his small business painted pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness! Individuals had an opportunity to purchase magnets in honor of someone affected by breast cancer to place on the truck, too cool!
Maximizing Character participated in a breast cancer awareness seminar hosted by Sentara Healthcare, a nonprofit healthcare organization, in order to promote early detection and intervention. And finally, we featured and supported our dear friends, Parents Against Bullying of VA who hosted two major events this month, a Skate-A-Thon and their historic, 1st Annual 1000 Kid March Against Bullying at Hampton University. These events put the icing on the cake for a busy but productive month! Maximizing Character was honored to support and participate in the activities and events with organizations and people of like-minded spirits. We hope that next year, as we grow in membership and stature that we can continue to support these important and nationally recognized organizations as well as host a few events to promote good character and ethics, health and wellness and help reduce the incidents of violence such as bullying in our schools and communities.
Aim for Camaraderie Versus Competition
A bit of a storm blew up recently regarding this woman and a pic that she posted on her website showing her posing with her kids. The point of the photo is to show off her great body, especially her abs and that she has accomplished this level of fitness despite having three children, the oldest being three, the youngest eight months when the photo was taken. People have reacted badly to the photo and this has forced her to post what she calls her first and last apology where she apologizes for the hurt she’s caused. She goes on to say “I’m sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way.”
I have no problem with the image. I think most people would be impressed by her physique and how she managed to attain it with three babies in tow. The same way I don’t…
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I launched a character education program this summer called Maximizing Character. The program has gotten off to a great start promoting its services within the community with the help of family, friends and like-minded organizations. I am passionate about promoting values and positive behaviors that help us to maximize our spiritual, social & emotional, physical, academic and professional potential. If you’ve ever wondered why there is so much violence, irresponsibility, disrespect, lack of integrity and self-centeredness in the world, think about people’s character. Consider the values that you were (or were not) taught or developed over the years. Believe it or not, character building is an important aspect of our development and it’s not just a topic for kids. Author and character educator, Michele Borba said it like this, “It is important to remember that the most important measure of a nation is not its gross national product, its technological genius, or its military might. It is the character of its people.” Civil Rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed, “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” Character encompasses the inward “man or woman” including traits such as honesty, responsibility, caring, and trustworthiness which ultimately reveal themselves in one’s actions and behaviors. If a person is truly honest, for example, their honesty will manifest in their relationships, on their job or at school and in how they live their lives. And know for certain, that people will quickly discern your true character no matter how hard you try to mask it. So…what does your character look like? If someone were to describe you, what would they say? How do you model good character to others especially the children in your life? Just a little Food for thought.