We all have a natural need to connect and belong. Belonging makes a person feel accepted and it makes us feel good about ourselves. A sense of belonging, especially is school, is important for young people. One of the barriers of belonging is the emphasis on “fitting in” at all costs. Belonging is understanding we are all unique and we all have a something special to contribute that no other person can. We can all be a part of the bigger picture.
Young students need to feel a sense of belonging to become productive learners and connected to other students and teachers so they can affirm who they in a way that is positive and accepting. In school, a community is being built where youth can feel safe and accepted. In this year’s program at Character on Track, our Champions of Character/Champions on Track talk to their young audience about belonging, what it means and how it applies. How can I feel that I belong? How do I acknowledge other students and help them belong? Why do include others? Why do we do the right thing even if it isn’t the popular thing? Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and we all have the power to help each other feel that way, to feel valued and safe and accepted.
The Champions will talk about “Courage” and that “It takes Courage to have Character”. Helping them to understand that knowing the value and the power of their courage is important for developing their character. Enlisting students to be courageous is a key component in creating a classroom community where students feel safe to fail, safe to share fears or ask questions, and safe to be themselves. It is important that we encourage students to stand up for what is right and have the courage to act with strong values when needed and in the face of fearful experiences.