Students brainstormed on various types of character values at the 2013 Abbotsford City of Character Youth Forum.

Students brainstormed on various types of character values at the 2013 Abbotsford City of Character Youth Forum.

Students promote positive values at annual forum

Second annual Abbotsford City of Character Youth Forum took place Friday.

Student representatives from 20 Abbotsford schools gave up their Pro-D day to discuss how to promote positive character traits in schools.

The second annual Abbotsford City of Character Youth Forum took place on Friday at W.J. Mouat Secondary. A total of 140 student and staff representatives from 20 middle and secondary schools attended the half-day event.

“Character is who you are and what you do when nobody’s looking,” board of education chair Cindy Schafer told students at the event.

The City of Character Youth Forum was established last year to introduce students to the values of the Abbotsford City of Character, a voluntary initiative that promotes respect, responsibility, integrity, empathy, courage, and service in Abbotsford’s society. Students also created action plans to implement their own chosen character values in their schools.

This year’s forum focused on how students acted on the plans, and how to form school character councils.

“It’s not a short term flash thing. It’s something that you weave in. It takes time to get this into the culture. In school, you hope to see kids be more responsible,” said Vijay Manuel, chair of Abbotsford’s City of Character initiative and a vice-principal at W.J. Mouat secondary.

Students in different schools took charge of the concept creatively.

W.J. Mouat created a character council and put on a “We are Hawks” week, named after the school mascot, in which students promoted positive actions, such as telling the truth and being respectful to each other.

At Abbotsford Christian, students created video clips highlighting their school’s character values. In one clip, as one student walked over a puddle in the hallway thinking someone else would clean it up, another urged him to do the work himself.

Mt. Lehman Elementary fundraised for the B.C. Children’s Hospital.

“Basically, they’re telling kids, let’s be responsible, we have to respect people in need,” said Manuel.

The annual event also had students participate in various activities to promote good values.

“What’s really important of what you leave behind is the legacy of how you treated others,” mayor Bruce Banman told the gathered students in a pre-recorded video.

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