Effort. Communication. Focus. Persevere.
These are just a few of the key character words that punctuated football drills at a Prior Lake middle school on a recent sunny spring morning. Not even the early-season humidity could dampen Twin Oaks Middle School students’ excitement over the celebration of their work in Character Playbook.
A partnership between United Way and the NFL, Character Playbook is an education initiative focused on youth character development and building healthy relationships. In the past two years, Greater Twin Cities United Way and the Minnesota Vikings brought this web-based program to schools throughout our state, reaching over 2,200 students this school year.
For 180 students at the Prior Lakes middle school, May 31 was the culmination of the work they’ve done on character this year. At the event, students heard from a panel including former Vikings player, John Swain; GTCUW staff member Leslie Wright; MN Vikings cheerleaders Taylor and Emma; and school principal Dr. Dan Edwards. The panel was emceed by KFAN’s Carly Zucker.
Each panelist shared thoughts on what character means to them.
“Character is more than a title. It’s who you are as a person…it’s more about who you are deep down,” Mr. Edwards told students. “What do people know about who you are and what you represent. That’s what it means to me.”
After sharing an example of a person losing their wallet and what choice another has when finding it, Swain said, “That’s your character. You want to do the right thing when no one else else is watching.”
After panelists answered student questions, it was off the school’s football field for a combination training camp and character education workshop, run by the Vikings, GTCUW volunteers and Everfi. Each station had its own keyword and highlighted skills such as overcoming obstacles and positive thinking.
Students left the field a little sweaty, but excited to tackle the rest of the school day—and the rest of the school year. Speaking as one of the volunteers, we enjoyed meeting the students and staff at Twin Oaks Middle School, or TOMS, as they call themselves, as well as working with the Vikings and Everfi staff. It was a great day and a great experience!
The NFL and United Way partnership is the longest-running collaboration in history between a major sports league and a nonprofit organization—a powerful vehicle for change. Together, we are making a direct impact in communities nationwide through programs and initiatives designed to help kids develop healthier minds and bodies. Learn more about our local partnership.