As we focus on employability this month, Forward Wayne County is excited to learn more about the More Than Words program from our guest blogger the United Way of Whitewater Valley:
Have you ever heard someone complain about “kids these days?” How about people being rude or inconsiderate when you’re out and about? Or maybe you’ve had issues with your younger employees’ punctuality or follow-through on a project. These character traits, like respect, kindness, empathy, and more, are the values we hope to instill in the next generations because they directly impact the community’s success. Being able to turn in your homework assignments on time impacts students’ success, which sets them up for success or failure in a future career, and this affects their economic mobility…which may affect their access to healthcare…and potentially have an impact on their future children.
Let’s be frank: not every parent or guardian has had exposure to those values or knows enough to teach them to their kids. The problem is that kids need those soft skills to succeed, and adults need them to make the community a nicer, more successful place for everyone. United Way of Whitewater Valley knows that this is a root cause for some of the problems within Union and Wayne County, so we’ve worked to establish the More Than Words program. UWWV is the sole funder for More Than Words. More Than Words is so vital for our community it needs to be 100% funded no matter what.
About More Than Words
More Than Words, created by Core Essential Values and exclusively funded by United Way of Whitewater Valley, is a toolkit sent out to participating schools (and churches, offices, and other interested organizations). More Than Words seeks to reinforce a character trait each month through curriculum enhancements and leading by example. We are excited to see local students make great strides in our core values like wisdom and responsibility. In a world where many things are instantly available – like streaming movies, ordering a pizza, or paying your bills with the click of a mouse – but other things are off-limits, like visiting family, going to the movies, or even hugging a friend. All kids can benefit from learning more about positive character traits.
How it Works
Like many things, it starts in the schools. Each month, schools receive a variety of resources. There are posters that feature the word of the month, coloring pages, videos, lesson kits for teachers, resources for older students, reading lists, quotes featuring this value, and other valuable tools for leaders to use. The goal is to help students connect the word of the month with certain behaviors. Then reinforce those positive behaviors.
For the 2021-2022 school year, Richmond Community Schools is working on a new emphasis of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) that focuses on brain states, resiliency, and empathy. More Than Words collaborated with the school district to utilize the MTW curriculum. The curriculum highlights the monthly value word on Thursday and Fridays during SEL time. Thanks to district leaders and educators, More Than Words now has more opportunities than ever to reach students.
The beautiful thing about the values emphasized in the More Than Words program is that they’re universal. People from all ages and backgrounds recognize patience and how important it is to have patience with ourselves and those around us. Some organizations within our community use More Than Words to give their staff something to connect the team and focus on each month. Kids learn about these values in school, and they go out into the community and see them. It’s not some abstract concept that they’ll only use in school; it’s a real value that everyone has the opportunity to practice and rely upon whenever it’s needed.
Why We Fund More Than Words
United Way of Whitewater Valley funds, supports and promotes More Than Words. The reason? Because it ties into one of our four pillars. Youth Success leads to a strong and thriving community. It indirectly affects the other three pillars (Economic Mobility, Access to Healthcare, and Childhood Success). Some of these resources are soft skills, like time management, communication, and character traits such as kindness and patience. We support endeavors that seek to broaden community access to those resources.
Children with access to college preparation or careers have a higher chance of success in adulthood. Increasing the likelihood of them coming back to their hometown and supporting their community. Ensuring more children have access to programs that address challenges and connect youth with opportunities to gain essential life skills.
United Way of Whitewater Valley is the sole source of funding for More Than Words. We are ensuring this program lasts and doesn’t have to rely on fundraising or donor support – which can ebb and flow throughout the years and the changing economy. It’s that critical to the community that we’ve taken a portion of our budget to keep it running so that the community never loses access to such an essential tool for kids, families, and businesses. You can join us in celebrating each month’s value and trying to include it in your personal and professional life.
Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character. – Heraclitus