United Way & NFL Are Teaching Kids How to Build Healthy Relationships to Keep Them Safe From Harm

Every year, the rise in temperature brings a new measurement of the hottest trends—the take-off song of the summer, the highest-grossing summer movie, the must-have toy or fashion of the season. Add to that list, the app of the summer.

Sarahah, which means candor or openness in Arabic, is an app that was designed to help users discover their strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from their employees and friends in a private manner. According to Fortune, it’s the app of the summer. But its explosive growth has apparently been driven by teenagers, raising a host of concerns about safety. Despite the developer’s good intentions, users are reporting that the app has become a breeding ground for cyberbullying and hate speech.

Bullying and cyberbullying continue to be pervasive issues that put immense pressure on communities across the U.S. In response, United Way teamed up with the NFL to create Character Playbook, a digital program that trains middle school students on how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships, make good decisions and step in when they see questionable activity.

But technology isn’t the problem or the solution. To keep today’s youth safe from harm, we need to better equip them with the knowledge they need to recognize cyberbullying for the problem it is and prevent it from happening in the first place. The Character Playbook curriculum was endorsed by experts in social and emotional learning, as well as relationship-building, and teaches youth how to:

Think more about what’s influencing them
Better understand and manage their emotions
Communicate effectively
Resolve conflicts
Step in to stop negative behavior
Make good decisions

Social and emotional learning is a teachable skill. Implemented at scale, it can change the narrative of a classroom, a school, a community. Together, the National Football League and United Way are working to ensure this tool is available to all schools free of charge. For more information, visit characterplaybook.com.

Press Release: The United Way of Forsyth County Partners with the NFL to Introduce the Character Playbook

November 3, 2016 – Winston-Salem, NC – The United Way of Forsyth County Partners with the NFL

The United Way of Forsyth County is collaborating with the National Football league (NFL) and the Carolina Panthers to introduce the Character Playbook to the Winston Salem/ Forsyth County School System. “Character Playbook- Building Healthy Relationships” is an innovative digital course that uses evidence-based strategies to educate students on how to cultivate and maintain relationships during their critical teenage years.

Character Playbook is comprised of six modules that cover key concepts around positive character development, social-emotional learning and building healthy relationships. Social/emotional development is a key aspect for the successful future of Forsyth County’s children.

Designed for learners in grades 7-9, the digital learning experience enables students to engage with true-to-life scenarios that include bystander intervention strategies and positive relationship examples. Most importantly, the course prepares students with safe, effective options for stepping up when a friend, family member, or fellow student needs help.

The program has been written into WS/FC School’s Life Management Skills curriculum which is required for all 9th graders in sixteen area high schools. All 9th grade teachers will be trained and will be able to use the course in context with other character development/healthy relationship conversations.

United Way President and CEO Cindy Gordineer notes, “We are very excited about this program. It aligns with important initiatives we already have on health, school success and career readiness. At United Way we’re proud to be a leader on the topic of character and healthy relationship education.”

United Way of Forsyth County believes quality of life relies on education, financial stability, health, and basic needs. All four are critical and interdependent to the collective success of our community. United Way of Forsyth County creates positive change in the community by aligning resources and strategic partners to achieve measurable, lasting results. We invest in improving student success and the high school graduation rate, increasing financial stability among lower-income individuals and families, broadening access to health care and providing critical assistance to those facing immediate crisis. Learn more about our work and rediscover the why behind the way at www.forsythunitedway.org.