LSU AgCenter 4-H Observes Character Counts! Week

Sarah E. Williams  |  4/19/2005 10:28:30 PM

New You Can Use For October 2004

LSU AgCenter 4-H character education expert Sarah Williams acknowledges that voicing support for character education is one thing, but building character is quite another.

To address the need for character education, the LSU AgCenter 4-H Youth Development Department conducts Character Counts! — a character education program for Louisiana youth.

During the third week of October every year, the LSU AgCenter 4-H program observes national Character Counts! Week.

Williams says that nationally, thousands of schools, organizations, businesses — even entire communities — participate.

"From American Youth Character awards programs to parades to litter-removal events to art and essay contests, Character Counts! participants show their commitment to strengthening character by affirming the importance of teaching the Six Pillars of Character," Williams says.

Those six pillars are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Character Counts! is a product of the Josephson Institute of Ethics program.

Williams adds that some schools and organizations plan to celebrate Red Ribbon week along with Character Counts! week. Red Ribbon week, Oct. 18-26, is an anti-drug abuse initiative of the Red Ribbon Coalition and is not affiliated with Character Counts!

Those who wish to recognize both weeks simultaneously can do so by emphasizing how the six pillars can be part of an anti-drug-abuse campaign, according to Williams. For example, respect and caring could serve as guidelines.

Respect means showing genuine regard for the worth of people, including yourself.

"It doesn’t mean that we hold everyone in high esteem or admire them," Williams says. "It means that everyone’s safety and well-being matter, and that all people have value."

We show respect by honoring a person’s dignity and privacy, by acting courteously, by accepting and tolerating different cultures, styles of dress, traditions and opinions and by acknowledging that everyone has the right to make up his own mind.

"In other words, we live by the Golden Rule: we treat others the way we want to be treated," Williams says, explaining, "It means we never treat others simply as a means to our own gratification or gain." Drug abuse works against respect for others and for ourselves.

She poses these questions: How does drug abuse cause people to be disrespectful toward others? How does drug abuse show a lack of respect for oneself?

She also offers this simple exercise: Consider the crimes often associated with drug abuse. List the violent crimes in one column and non-violent crimes in another.

Caring means to show regard and concern for the well-being of others. Caring people don’t act in selfish, cruel or insensitive ways. Drug abuse causes people to be uncaring.

Williams says to think about friendship. How would you describe a genuine friend? She says that true friends care for each other's mental, emotional and physical health.

If your friend was involved with drugs, what would be the most caring way for you to respond? Is it healthy for someone to ask you to cover up his illegal drug use? Is it healthy for you to help someone use illegal drugs?

For additional activities or more information about national Character Counts! week, contact the Character Counts! Web site: www.charactercounts.org  

For more information on other 4-H programs, visit the AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com/.  For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/
On the Internet: Louisiana 4-H Web site: http://www.louisiana4h.org
On the Internet: Character Counts! www.charactercounts.org    
Source: Sarah Williams (225) 578-2196, or SAwilliams@agcenter.lsu.edu

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