Lucie Collins, Year 5 London Project Leader, talks about what character is and the impact it can have on young people and learning.

What’s the most enjoyable part of being a Project Leader? For me, it’s finding different and creative ways to bring character into my sessions.

So what is character?

Jubilee Centre defines it as educational activities that help young people develop positive personal strengths. At ReachOut we concentrate on the character strengths of fairness, self-control, good judgement and staying power.

How character can be used

Back in September, to kick off the project, the girls each decorated a ‘hand’ made of card and listed a character strength on each finger. Each week, they put a star on the finger of the character strength they feel they have used most, which has been a great way for them to reflect and visually see how they are using character strengths and to recognise those which could be used more.

To inspire the girls on using character strengths in their day to day lives, I found a series of children’s books called ‘Little People, Big Dreams’. Each book is a beautifully illustrated biography of a woman that has made a difference in the world, telling of the obstacles she had to face, but ultimately overcame, to achieve something.

As my group love maths and science, I chose the book about Marie Curie where we discussed which character strengths they thought she used at different points in her life. The mentors helped the girls write out their ideas to create a poster, along with examples of when they had used character strengths in their own lives.

The impact of character

Having real-life examples made the activity more relatable and helped them to further understand the importance of using character. After reading the book, they were able to think of situations when they had used a character strength in different parts of their lives, not just related to school or the ReachOut sessions.

Teaching character is invaluable not just for the girls, but for me also. Each week I am astounded by the insight the girls already have into life and the responsibility they are taking upon themselves for their attainment, both academically and in their confidence, by focusing on character. The last page of the book relayed how there are many things to learn in life, and many ways to help others. With hard work, commitment and resilience, we can make a change in our own lives as well as others.

Giving these girls the belief and confidence that they have the potential to achieve great things in their life is one important part of ReachOut, but week after week I see that character is what is giving them the skills to not just have big dreams, but to follow them too.

If you’re interested in becoming a Project Leader like Lucie, sign up on our website

For more character inspired activities, follow Lucie on Instagram: @lucieslightbulb