VRH Consultants, Creating Curriculum for Social Change is a division of The America’s Young Heroes Educational Outreach Program which began in the mid 1990’s; its contests invited students to submit solutions, via the arts, to practice tolerance and understanding at home, school and community.
As a result of the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999, the contests emphasized the need to incorporate character education in the schools. Students were asked to nominate historical or contemporary youngsters such as classmates, friends or family members who resolved conflicts, such as bullying with positive words and positive action. Educational resources, such as the award winning anthology entitled“TEENS ARE HEROES, TOO! Challenges, Choices & Character” resulted from the contests. The inspirational poems, short stories and art have highlighted youngsters who chose to be victors rather than victims.
Educators have implemented the stories of ‘triumph over adversities’ and the ‘hero’ activities from“TEENS ARE HEROES, TOO! in their lesson plans at Florida’s schools, colleges and universities. As a result, students of all ages have been encouraged to explore their uniqueness, strengths, successes, talents, attributes and ‘Passion with Purpose’ to share and act upon for the good of all.
Thanks to the teachers who participated in the contests and programs, students have learned to face challenges with fortitude, compassion and caring, a positive attitude, gratitude, citizenship and above all, self respect, a necessary pre-requisite to courageously practice reverence for the diversities of others.
Perhaps the tragedy at Columbine H.S. could have been prevented if the perpetrators would have learned such skills given their statement in a video a week before their violent solutions: “After next week, we will begin to get the respect we deserve.”
FAU Art Has Character project
“The collage was used to recognize the strengths of ourselves and others and in order to respect others, we first need to respect ourselves.”
“The project has shown how important it is to be flexible and the benefits of stepping out of our comfort zone.”
“Activities showed that working with others teaches compromise so as to meet everyone’s needs/wants.”
America’s Young Heroes Bullying Solutions project
“This contest has made me realize to never give up.”
“This project made me realize there’s always a way to overcome an obstacle.”
“This inspired me to get involved with projects that help others and help me grow.”