At ReachOut we help our young people to develop character strengths by taking them on the Character Journey. There are four stages on the journey however it doesn’t end with the fourth as developing character is a lifelong process. We encourage all our young people, and indeed our mentors and staff as well, to keep reflecting on their character and to continue developing their strengths far beyond ReachOut.
KNOW and RECOGNISE character
This stage is about understanding what character is and that it can be developed. We help our young people begin to be able to talk about character, to identify character strengths in others and themselves, and to recognise the benefits of exercising good character.
At this stage young people will take part in activities such as looking at case studies of role models who have demonstrated ReachOut’s character strengths, and pointing out character strengths in their fellow mentees and mentors. Some will also begin to work through the ReachOut Character Book which facilitates discussion and understanding around character.
CHOOSE to develop character
Having identified what character strengths look like and the benefits that exercising good character can bring, we want our young people to make an active choice to develop their own character strengths.
At this stage young people will discuss their own character strengths with their mentor and identify opportunities to develop areas where they are weaker and what benefits improvements could bring. With the support of their mentor they will make a plan to develop their character through small but regular activities, such as thanking the lunch staff every day or putting their hand up before speaking in class.
TAKE ACTION and PRACTISE developing character
Time to implement the plan!
The young people will begin to put into practise the plan they have made. At this stage support from the mentor is vital as the young person will need encouragement to stick to the plan, focus on the benefits of practising good character and develop strategies to overcome challenges they face in carrying out their actions.
REFLECT on character
Regular reflection is important throughout the character journey.
Together with their mentor, young people will consider areas where their character is developing, and what the benefits have been. They’ll receive feedback from their mentor and also their Project Leader. They may decide to continue working on the same character strength if they feel it has not yet become like a habit, or to revisit a different stage and choose another area to develop. Young people will also have the opportunity to share their reflections with the rest of the group.
ReachOut’s Character Journey has been developed by ReachOut staff, Project Leaders and former mentors. It is being used as a framework across all our programmes this year to help guide mentors’ discussions and activities with the young people. We look forward to receiving feedback on the framework from the mentors and young people at the end of the year.