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What can we do – before and after a tragedy?December 15, 2012
It seems inconceivable that a young man, no matter how tormented by mental illness, would enter an elementary school in a small town, and murder twenty little children as well as the adults who tried to intervene. And he had already killed his mother.
There are two ways The Virtues Project can help in tragic times such as this. One is to renew the commitment to reach every child possible to awaken their virtues of compassion, confidence, and justice, for school communities to make sure no child is friendless, that bullying fades in the light of hope, that every parent knows how to raise children of kindness and integrity. The Five Srategies of The Virtues Project are a transformative resource available to every family, school and community.
Secondly, we have been there at other tragedies, to help in the healing, with virtues-based healing circles and companioning at an individual and community level. Pocatello, Moses Lake, First Nations across Canada, Walkerton, Ontario. Many thousands of schools across the world use the virtues Strategies to empower, inspire and heal. Most of all, at times such as this, we need to gather, to listen to one another’s pain and to mirror the virtues we see in one another.
We have facilitators in the area now, including our Director of Education, Dara Feldman, firstname.lastname@example.org offering their assistance in outreach to parents, children, teachers and community members.
I applaud the responsible and compassionate response of schools across the nation in renewing their efftorts to reinforce safety standards in our schools. As President Obama has said, we need to do more and to do better to stop this violence before it starts. We need to take meaningful action.
Prevention of these violent acts is a priority. Every child and every troubled teen, needs access to psychological support and sustained character education. They thrive when they receive support that empowers them mentally, spiritually and emotionally. We have found that even those suffering with mental illness can be touched by the awareness of their own virtues. It is a key that unlocks a positive will. We also need to keep offering our children images and stories of heroism and courage that are not merged with violence. Above all, when children are awakened to their virtues -- the gifts of character within them – this becomes their true destiny and their greatest treasure.
Linda Kavelin-Popov, co-founder of The Virtues Project www.virtuesproject.com