The Herald Bulletin
---- — The Athletes of Character program is designed to select high school student-athletes based on accomplishments inside and outside the classroom, as well as their strong personality traits.
Those athletes are presented visually on posters and trading cards to help identify them as people who are worthy of notice and even emulation by young people throughout Madison County.
What really makes the program, which is administered by Character Counts! of Madison County, a special addition to the area is the student athletes giving of their time to visit younger students in a classroom setting.
The athletes speak on a variety of topics including the importance of education and community involvement, choosing the right peers, budgeting time, showing respect and many other topics important for young people to hear.
Certainly many of these messages are imparted to students in a variety of effective ways by the teachers and administrators at the schools and their work is substantial and valuable in its own way. But the messages carried by these student athletes can sometimes make an even greater impact.
The reason the potential for good is so strong in this program is that these athletes are often already known by the younger students because of their high visibility in newspapers and even because they may have heard the names of these athletes mentioned at home in conversations by parents and other family members and friends.
Another reason the message from these athletes can be so powerful is that the age difference between those sending the message and those receiving is relatively small. The athletes can recall back to the time when they were in the younger students’ places and can relate better to how to connect with these young students.
Celebrity status is given out far too frequently these days and some of it goes to people unable or unwilling to use that status to be good role models for young people. Yet without programs like Athletes of Character, young people gravitate toward those celebrities anyway and get pointed down questionable paths.
Athletes of Character is a great way for our young people to get a positive example and message they can use to become betterstudents and citizens themselves. It is a program that deservesour support.
In summary Bringing high school athletes into the schools to interact with younger students is a good way to provide an example of what hard work inside and outside of the classroom can accomplish.