United Way of the National Capital Area Tackles Character Development in Middle Schools Through the Character Playbook Program

It’s not every day you get to work out with Washington Redskins players, but for over 300 seventh grade students at Francis C. Hammond hurdling laps next to Josh Norman was more than enough to make gym class the highlight of the day. As part of United Way of the National Capital Area’s (United Way NCA) partnership with Everfi and the NFL, students participating in the Character Playbook program were treated to an afternoon of strength and endurance-based challenges, physical obstacles, and character development exercises hosted by Washington Redskins players Josh Norman and Josh Morgan. Along with teaching the students how to throw a football and properly pulling a push-up, both players helped walk students through goal setting, ethics, and communication scenarios focused on character development.

In today’s world, building character doesn’t always come naturally. There’s a lot of pressure inside and outside a student’s environment that can be detrimental to their emotional security, mental health and relationships. More times than not, topics like building secure relationships, developing healthy communication skills, and emotional regulation are often left off the syllabus.

Yet, we know that investing in a student’s character development yields monumental gains for their academic achievements down the road. In fact, a recent study from Caselstates that even a small intervention in social emotional education development yields on average an 11 percentile gain in academic performance. This is because students who are in touch with their emotions have a better chance at communicating their needs effectively, building stress-management, empathy, problem-solving, and decision-making skills along the way.

The special event hosted in partnership with Everfi, the Washington Redskins and United Way NCA is an ongoing initiative to make available the Character Playbook program to Francis C. Hammond and other United Way NCA community schools throughout the region. Through a comic book style step-by-step module, students are engaged in ethics training, goal setting and execution, as well encouraging a general sense of kindness and mindfulness to others.

To learn more about Character Playbook and other United Way NCA health initiatives, please visit unitedwaynca.org/health