Youth Leadership and Character Programming
In order for a student to resist the pressures and negative influences in their lives, they need to have a strong internal compass. That compass is their character. Risk avoidance depends on that internal moral guide that leads them to make decisions that will positively impact their futures as well as the people around them.
What is Character?
Character is what motivates a person’s thoughts and actions. It is the inner self made up of personality traits. It is also taught. Students learn character development through example and education. We want to grow teens with strong character that will help them build a successful future.
Good character includes certain characteristics:
- A strong sense of morality
- Willingness to stand up for others
Character manifests itself in conduct. Conduct is not the same as character, but it reveals character. Teens with strong character are better able to avoid risk behaviors, and their internal compass helps them navigate away from things that might harm them or others.
What is Leadership?
Leadership is the next step. We believe every student has the potential to be a leader. When high expectations are placed on students with strong character, they rise to the occasion and can become highly influential forces for good in their schools.
Leadership greatly improves a teen’s self-esteem. It gives them the skills to express themselves well and discuss issues that are important to them. Young leaders demonstrate higher career aspirations, increased self-esteem, and improved high school completion rates.
After parents, peers have the greatest impact on a teen’s life. When teen leaders focus on helping other students through their social influence, they can change a campus culture. Leaders provide a good example for their peers through taking responsibility for their words and actions, overcoming their own failures and mistakes, and helping others.
How you can help young people develop strong character and leadership
According to the U.S. Department of Education, young people learn about strong character and leadership through parents and other adults in their daily lives. Here are a few key reminders on how you play a part in a child’s development:
- Set a good example through your own behavior and actions
- Set and communicate high standards and clear expectations
- Coach them on how to be responsible and kind
- Use literature to reinforce the values of strong character
Just Say YES Character Development and Leadership Programming
Book a Just Say YES character development/leadership program at your school! Each of our speakers integrates their own personal stories into their messages to give students the challenge and the example for developing strong character. Contact a program coordinator to find out which speaker will best connect with your unique student population. Also, take a look at our Just Say YES Peer-to-Peer Mentoring program for the North Texas region to find out more about how we can partner with your school to train upperclassmen as leaders for younger students in your school district.