On Tuesday, October 3rd, Rams linebacker CONNOR BARWIN,Voice of the Rams J.B. LONG, and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles partnered with EVERFI to host a virtual classroom experience, Character Playbook Live, for students from six different schools across the LA region. Throughout the remote video session, students from eight classrooms engaged in discourse regarding the importance of character and activities designed to celebrate and explore the aspects of healthy relationships.
During the interactive-online learning session, Barwin and Long asked the students a series of true/false questions pertaining to character and different life scenarios. With response cards presented to the camera, students were able to answer questions relating to the effects of media, portrayals of advertisements, peer influences, advantages of sports for youth, and the moral qualities of someone with good character. Towards the end of the discussion, students were even able to ask their own questions in a Q & A session with Barwin and Long.
As a nine-year veteran and team captain, providing leadership and guidance comes natural for Barwin. Since joining the Rams this offseason, he has been a well-versed presence on a roster that ranks second youngest in the NFL. Barwin believes the role of a leader is to always exercise good character, and to do so in a way that will positively influence others around them.
"I think character is when you choose to do the right thing. But I also think character is the ability to make other people around you better. As a football player, I think a high character player is someone that tries to help their teammates. For you guys, I think it's someone that tries to help their classmates and their friends whether it's helping them with a certain subject that they're struggling in or with a problem they're having at home. I think being a high character adult or kid is someone that tries to improve the lives of the people around them."
The opportunity to mentor students provided moments of reflection for Barwin. Perhaps they were even embraced moments that served as healthy reminders of how good character can be employed in difficult or even contentious situations. When asked by a student how he resolves conflict, Barwin responded with a question:
"Have you guys ever read To Kill A Mockingbird *(By Harper Lee)? Do you remember what Atticus told his daughter, Scout?" All the children nodded their head in accordance. "He told her, 'Whenever you're thinking about someone else, try to put yourself in their shoes,'" restated Barwin. "Whenever I have a conflict, I think about that story and really try to understand what their perspective is and why they think the way they think. Then share my perspective and try to resolve the conflict that way. I learned that reading *To Kill A Mockingbird when I was your age!"
EVERFI's Sr. Director of Sports and Entertainment, Hilary Awad, believes the Character Playbook initiative is an evolutionary learning tool that serves its users and participants with valuable skills they need for success beyond the classroom. With both empirical and anecdotal evidence showing that teachers, parents and society recognize the benefits of Social and emotional learning at the middle school age, Awad is confident Character Playbook Live will have a lasting impact on its students.
"Seventy percent of parents want their children to be taught about healthy relationships before the age of 12, and almost fifty percent of teachers believe that schools should offer more social and emotional learning. My colleagues and I at Everfi are passionate about meeting this critical learning gap with an interactive, digital curriculum that engages students, empowers teachers and helps develop the next generation of character in the United States using sports and education as a vehicle for change."
Schools that participated in the Rams' Character Playbook were: Enterprise Middle School (Compton), Bud Carson Middle School (Hawthorne), Emerson Middle School (Los Angeles), Valley View Middle School (Simi Valley), Santee Education Complex (Los Angeles) and Kelly Elementary (Compton).
EVERFI is a digital learning software and a network of knowledge-sharing and opportunity that certifies organizations striving to being digital learning and big data analytics to personalized education. If you would like more information, please visit their website at everfi.com/.
For more information about Character Playbook Live, please visit characterplaybook.com/.