Dreams really do come true if you believe in what it is you do! This is me, Joni Downey, I'm the creator and founder of the Characters of Character. It's been a long journey, but, a new chapter is being written and we hope that you'll become a part of it.
In 2005 I piloted the Characters of Character, they were merely in the making, a concept, a few drawings, huge messages. They earned a National Promising Practice Award after being piloted in an elementary school in Illinois, which only two in the state were recognized for this honor. I spent the summer designing posters, activities, etc. for each classroom that year and it was well worth it! One student even designed their own costume for Halloween because she just loved Do'er Duck.
I took a leave of absence from the school that year to form a nonprofit organization thinking that it would be easy, and knowing that the characters would make an impact on our children. In 2007 a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizaiton was formed and we haven't looked back! Since this time we have published over thirty books, including a social story for each character, a resource book filled with activities and lessons for each character and a bulletin board display book to engage the students in the character trait. Some of the characters have a few extra books we published. All of these are on Amazon.
As we know, 2008 was the year the economy took a dive, my husband was in construction which wasn't doing well and I went back to teaching, preschool! I had never taught that age, only raised our three children and worked in an elementary school What a fun chapter to see learning through these children's eyes at such an early age! Then, about seven years ago my husband (now 40 years married) landed a good job which allowed me to 110% to give back to the organizaiton . He said, "Joni, go do you"
Which brings me to today! We've made tremendous accomplishments to accommodate children and families to learn about the characters, to engage in lessons and to discuss what the characters have to teach society.
These are just a few of the years gone by:
By now you may be asking where does the dream come true come in? Well, a few years ago my husband and I decided that we wanted to move out of Illinois. We chose Tennessee, the people, the places and the opportunities in a volunteer state helped us make this choice. So, a few years back we met with the Governor's Office to introduce the organization, we registered as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit in Tennessee and have met other Youth Organizations in hopes to partner to help make a difference in the life of a child.
Through the years we have traveled, looking to open doors to schools, communities, etc. and then...I thought, why not have our own space, a community center, a facility where we can welcome in the surrounding communities to visit us, to learn about each of the characters through art, through literacy, through drama, through character building lessons? And, what a better place to plant roots than here in Tennessee! That's where the dream comes in, we've made it, we're here, we are looking for that ideal location to begin the bigger picture and we need you! How can you help?
Meet Behavior Bear who teaches what good behavior looks like, sounds like and feels like, Do'er Duck who teaches perseverance and to Never Give Up, Friendship Frog who teaches what a good friend is, Healthy Hippo who teaches healthy habits for both body and mind, Manners Monkeywho teaches good manners, Respectful Rabbitwho teaches what it means to be respectful, Responsible Rabbit who teaches what it means to be responsible, Self-Esteem Elephant who teaches what it means to be confident and embrace the words, "I Like ME" and Warm-Hearted Walrus who teaches what it means to be kind and not bully.
We can't wait to meet y'all!
Halloween is fun for the kids as they dress up in their costumes, have classroom parties and enjoy time with their friends in the neighborhood knocking on doors to collect candy. Then, they sift through looking for their favorites! My mom always put a big bowl of candy we collected in the pantry to share and then hid the rest so that we didn't pig out and eat it all! Times were simpler back then, we knew everyone on our block and in our neighborhood. While this video cartoon we made a few years ago may not be like what you'd see on the television, the message is very, very important to share. After all, there is an old cliche' "It's the thought that counts" and we just wanted to get the message out to you and hope you'll share it with others, too. Happy Halloween!
Here are some tips for Trick-or-Treating this year:
1, Don't go to a house with no lights on
2. Don't eat your candy without an adult checking it first
3. always have a Trick-or-Treat buddy
4. Bring a flashlight or wear reflective clothing
5. Don't run from house to house or in between parked cars
6, Never roam too far from home
It's important to put safety first in everything you do, this is true on Halloween too, so listen to the rules your family puts in place then put on that Trick-or-Treat face!
The month of October is well underway, and the children can't wait for Halloween day! With ghosts and goblins and witches, too, the children will be dressed up to say: "TRICK-OR-TREAT" to you! While not everyone will celebrate Halloween, we like the idea of Perseverance and Pumpkins to help reinforce and teach a child to persevere, to never give up, to keep on trying no matter how difficult a task may seem. Our activity book is a fun, engaging and simple way to open a discussion of this vital core value with your own children. Available on Amazon.
Fall is actually my favorite time of the year, the cooler weather, and especially the beautiful colors from the leaves changing colors. There are so many vibrant reds, oranges, yellows and even brown. Stop to take a quick look around, it's like an artists palette of beautiful colors just waiting to be observed and enjoyed.
Teaching a child perseverance is a vital value as there is no easy way to learn anything. It's important to practice when you need to, but, most of all to at least try. You're pretty luck if you tackle a new task and are able to accomplish it first time around! I know for me I had to really try hard at many things, and, practice them quite often in order to become better at it. This might be frustrating to a child if they are not able to grasp a concept or task first time around, but, as an adult, it's up to us to allow them to fail, let them know that it's truly alright to fail and how important it is to try it again. Like learning to ride a bike, you may fall off, but, you get back on and try it again! As we learn and grow, Do'er Duck is an easy character to lean. Encourage your child, if they throw a tantrum, let them cool down, and encourage them to try the task again. Watch how they light up when they feel that accomplishment and can share that they did it!
Click here to print me out! Display this poster and share it with your child to encourage perseverance right in your own home!
Do'er Duck made a visit to our home years ago! (above) While the Characters were piloted in an elementary school where they earned a National Promising Practice Award, there was a student whose favorige character was Do'er Duck. For Halloween, her mom and Megan made a costume for the class party! Today, she is an elementary teacher just like her mom!
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Remember, Characters of Character is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and your donation helps us to bring these messages to our children. Donate here.
FREE coloring pages just for you, simply introduce the character and discuss the trait then hand out some crayons to let your kids create! Click on the picture to print out.
Have you ever wondered how you can help to make a difference in the world we live in? Perhaps you're an advocate for our environment and fight the cause by recycling. Perhaps you're an advocate for animals and you volunteer at a local shelter or donate to one in need? Perhaps you're an advocate for our oceans and you help clean up the beaches. Whatever your heart desires, it's where you follow. Right?
Well, mine is for our children. I've been volunteering at Characters of Character since the day I created it back in 2007. Why so many have asked? Even family members have asked why, you don't get paid for your time or talent? It's true. However, when you have a passion, and you believe in something bigger than yourself, you do whatever it takes to enrich the life of a child. This video is short and sweet and was sent to Aquent for funding for new costumes for our characters as they are actually over ten years old and need some remodeling of their own! While they are a lot of fun to be in and feel the love from others when they meet the characters, they need an update. If you can, please feel free to donate here.
Or, perhaps you've had a child who had to stay or visit the hospital. We all know how scary that can be. Our organization donates our Superhero Activity Boxes to Children's Hospitals! We found just before Covid that there is a great need for such resources and so we have made this our projects to donate to Children's Hospitals each and every year. So far with Sponsorships and Donations and Fundraisers, we have been able to donate over 500 boxes this past year and we would love to double that each year. After all, unfortunately, there are always new patients in the hospitals and to give them something that brings them calm and joy helps us to fulfill our mission, and to make a difference. If this is something you might like to become involved in, please contact me here or visit us online to learn more about our hospital donations here.
Some of the places we've donated to our as follows:
Ann & Robert Lurie's in Chicago, Illinois
Shriner's in Chicago, Illinois
Huntley in Huntley, Illinois
Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee
East Tennessee Children's Hospital
South Texas Children's Hospital
Coming soon we are adding Northwestern Medicine, McHenry Hospital, McHenry location, Woodstock location and the Huntley location. If you would like to donate or Sponsor these Superhero Boxes, please do so here. Together we will make a difference in the life of a child. As the year is coming to close sooner rather than later, we would like to donate at least 500 more Superhero Activity Boxes and we hope you'll consider a donation today. Thank you.
Just a little peak at the impact the boxes have on children's patients, Please donate today.
As you can tell above, the box is colorful! It's sturdy and it includes a Superhero Activity Book, a canvas that says, I AM SUPER, an easel to display it on, watercolor paints, superhero sticker, crayons, a character lanyard to become a Superhero Agent and a personalized letter from one of the Characters of Character!
If you can imagine, ordering the items, writing grants, reaching out for donations, sponsorships and supporters, fulfilling these boxes is time consuming. It's well worth every hour, knowing that the children, the staff and the families appreciate these boxes. And, that's how you make a difference! Your support is appreciated to continue what we do. Thank you.
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Characters of Character is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a firm foundation for children to establish strong civic values. We hope you'll take a moment to write a review for our organization so that we may acquire a Great Non Profit Badge again this year. This helps us become more recognized and we need to be recognized to continue to empower the lives of our children. Click here for the link and we appreciate your support, thank you.
If you have not had the opportunity to meet the organization or have heard about the good work that they do, we encourage you to visit us online to learn more, and meet each of the characters here and learn about our projects here and don't forget about the FREE activities and resources we provide you to help reinforce good character in your home here. Your donations and Sponsorships help us to make a difference in the life of a child. Donate here.
Married with children since 1981. Love working with children and sharing the Characters of Character.