Character Initiative History in Abbotsford
In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, this focus on character development took a back seat to many other social movements, ones that were more focused on self-awareness and self-expression. The character focus that existed throughout our communities faded away.
It was in 1992 that North America began to take a turn towards a character education focus again at the Aspen Declaration On Character Education. The final summative point of the declaration stated:
"The character and conduct of our youth reflect the character and conduct of society; therefore, every adult has the responsibility to teach and model the core ethical values and every social institution has the responsibility to promote the development of good character."
~Aspen Declaration on Character Education, July 1992
Since this declaration, various character organizations have been founded in North America with hundreds of schools, cities, and businesses of character. This movement has spread beyond the borders of North America with over 29 international cities of character already established.
In 2009, the school district conducted an Assets Survey of more than 5000 students which confirmed that Abbotsford was in need of a character education initiative. Results showed that Abbotsford students were fairing slightly below continental averages in the development assets and this would require community engagement at all levels to help our students become healthy, successful, contributing members of society. As a result, a character committee was established and began working on the initiative in December, 2009.
A landmark event took place on April 26th, 2011. Spearheaded by members of the character committee, leaders from across the city of Abbotsford met to establish a common language that would guide the character movement. Following 3 hours of work, six keystones or values were agreed upon as being the foundational elements to our city. Following this milestone event, an official Abbotsford Character Council was established including members of the original character committee and representatives from key community stakeholders and organizations.
This exciting chapter began with the belief that when every adult, business, and organization teaches, models, and promotes good character, it will be reflected in our children and youth and in every part of our community.
The 2012/2013 year promises to be an exciting next step as three major events are planned: a Youth Forum, City of Heroes Awards Ceremony, and a Leadership Summit on Character. CLICK HERE for more info.
Pictured to the Right: Executive members meet with Ryan Walter, Abbotsford Heat President and Abbotsford Character Council member.