Pledging Character Building

The words of the 4-H Member’s Pledge are important for all youth in today’s society. Raising good and caring citizens while still protecting kids from an era of new dangers has become increasingly challenging for parents.  

“I believe in 4-H club work for the opportunity it will give me to become a useful citizen.” 4-H cares about kids and their future, what they’re doing and learning, and encourages every child to be and do their best. Something that television, the internet, and texting doesn’t nurture nearly as well.  The learning opportunities available today are countless, but unfortunately many are negative; such as cyber-bulling and “sexting”. 4-H supports exploring and developing useful skills and interests and believes in teamwork and cooperation.   

“I believe in the training of my head for the power it will give me to think, plan, and reason.”  The ideas, examples, and role models kids are exposed to, are just as powerful as the mind itself. Input affects output and the media shouldn’t be a child’s main influence.  4-H projects teach responsibility, goal-setting, and self-discipline. Club members make their own choices and decisions and are encouraged to think for them selves. They learn to make good judgments by being objective and impartial and their thoughts and ideas are welcomed in a positive and encouraging atmosphere.  

“I believe in the training of my heart for the nobleness it will give me to become kind, sympathetic, and true.” Children who show respect gain respect. 4-Hers become more aware of their surroundings through community service projects and develop respect for other places and people. Those who choose animal projects learn responsibility, understanding, dedication, and compassion in properly caring for animals. 

“I believe in the training of my hands for the dignity it will give me to be helpful, useful, and skillful.”  4-H kids learn that dignity is gained through being constructive, helpfulness, usefulness, and representing themselves and their organization(s) with pride through appearance and behavior. Should we be surprised that many colleges and places of employment are checking on how applicants represent themselves on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter before accepting or hiring them?  

“I believe in the training of my health for the strength it will give me to enjoy life, resist disease, and to work efficiently.”  4-Hers learn the importance of outdoor and leisure activities and taking care of themselves through projects on exercise, hobbies, and nutrition.  No offense, but kids are still inside in front of a TV using a Wii. 4-H also cultivates the value of hard work and persistence while developing life skills.  

“I believe in my country, my state, community and my world, and in my responsibility for their development.”  4-H kids learn how to be responsible for and proud of their environment and how to better them selves for the sake of their future. Can an Xbox do as much? 

“In all these things I believe, and I am willing to dedicate my efforts to their fulfillment.”  Through the guidance of caring persons—I have yet to see any caring electronics—kids are encouraged, praised and rewarded for their efforts in developing good character.  4-H and many other similar programs are available to all kids. Help promote youth in build character activities; get them involved in 4-H or at the very least, instill values like those of the 4-H Member’s Pledge.  

Column originally published November 15-21, 2009

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