[Source: Kenosha News]
By: Tara Panasewicz the Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Kenosha County.
Conflict is a fact of life that some individuals thrive on while others avoid.
Bullying, cyber-bulling and teen dating violence threaten our children every day. In fact, according to stopbullying.gov, 62 percent of teachers across America witnessed bullying two or more times in the past month.
In order to help middle school students develop the skills they need to navigate the tricky conflicts of the real world, United Way teamed up with the National Football League and EVERFI to develop the game changing platform Character Playbook.
Character Playbook is a digital, interactive education program that teaches middle school children in the U.S. how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships, make good decisions and step in when they see questionable activity. The Character Playbook curriculum was endorsed by experts in social and emotional learning, as well as relationship building.
To keep today’s youth safe from harm, we need to better equip them with the knowledge they need to recognize it and prevent it from happening in the first place. It starts with education. Experts say that social and emotional learning programs improve student academic performance by 83 percent. And a reported 70 percent of parents want their children to be taught about healthy relationships before age 13.
Committed to youth success, United Way of Kenosha County researched NFL Character Playbook as our main impact strategy for middle school students in Kenosha County to prepare them when dealing with conflict. The goal for our students is to prepare them for good jobs, and keep them healthy and safe as they build their futures.
Since 2016, character playbook has reached almost 500,000 students in over 5,000 schools. Schools that teach character education report higher academic performance, improved attendance, reduced violence, fewer disciplinary issues, reduction in substance abuse and less vandalism.
Eighty-four percent of teachers surveyed say the course covered content their students would otherwise have not seen. A majority of students leave the course more prepared to play a positive role in their communities, whether by stepping in to help someone who is being treated with disrespect or by taking an active role in conflict resolution. In fact, 71 percent of students surveyed in the last school year say they have higher expectations of how to treat someone in a relationship.
United Way of Kenosha County believes that healthy communities are made stronger when all voices are heard and people have the tools to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships. It’s a skill set that grows over time and it’s never too early to put these practices in motion. We want the next generation to learn about open-mindedness, resilience, self-control and social awareness.
Those skills may not impact SAT scores, but they’re foundational to a child’s success in school, work and life. And they make our world a better place.