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!
Married with children since 1981. Love working with children and sharing the Characters of Character.