Mark Liston was asked whom he had in mind when he wrote C2. He said, “When Judge Selby asked me to develop C2, his concern was with the kids in state custody who lived in foster care or group homes.” Judge Selby said, “We’re just warehousing these kids. They are growing up to be criminals or dependent on the government for their living. We have got to give them a foundation for living or they won’t have a life!”
From day one, kids in “the system” are whom Mark had in mind as he wrote the material and chose the movies. If you check, you will see that many of the movies tell stories of kids who are abused, from single-parent families or are in residential care. Think of “Step Up,” “Finding Forrester,” “Gridiron Gang,” and “August Rush.” In fact, only three of the 24 do not specifically deal with these themes.
Also, the movies for the most part are culturally diverse and multiracial. Five focus on racial issues and two-thirds are racially diverse.
Our first pilot group was a racially mixed group home in Virginia. The facilitator said he recommends C2 for this setting and that it “made a difference in their lives.”
How can C2 be used in a group home or with foster care?
1. Use C2 to give your kids a foundation for healthy living. Most have grown up struggling to survive and have no idea how to thrive. They operate on survival skills rather than using healthy living skills.
2. When you first purchase C2, start with one group to learn how it will work best with your population. Later you can do multiple groups at the same time.
3. Break it up into two 12-week sessions, one for each semester of school.
4. Use C2 as a summer learning experience and meet the group three times a week for 8 weeks or four times a week for 6 weeks.
5. Use it as part of the orientation for new residents.
6. Rather than having kids in the C2 group from the same cottage or family group, get kids who don’t know each other as well.
7. Have an ongoing, “open” [adds members whenever they want to join] C2 group.
8. Do individual counseling sessions with the kids who need the most help. Take them to Seligman’s website and have them takethe VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire [authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu]. Teens will love you if you start this work by identifying their strengths.
9. If possible, meet with their parents, explain your approach, and encourage them along the same path of developing their character strengths. Start a parents group so parents and teens are “speaking the same language” [that would be unusual!].
10. If you are looking for more referrals to your home, meet with your local social service agencies and caseworkers, juvenile service organizations, and judges to offer these services. Those who work with at-risk teens will see you as a resource.
A 17-year old male who could barely read was referred to C2 by a judge who tried him for violence and vandalism. After only 8 sessions with our character education program, he was asked what he thought of C2. “It’s cool,” he shrugged, and recommitted himself to finish high school.
A problem with character education programs is they are often preparation-intensive. One purchaser said, “We want something we can pick up and can teach effectively with an hour of preparation.” C2 defines “user-friendly” in character education. Open our Toolkit, read the two-page set of instructions, review the presentation notes, put the DVD in the player, and you are ready to go!
Many teens are not given a foundation for virtue and happiness at home. We who work with this population know that if teens don’t get it now, perhaps they never will. The C2 character education program was written to help them “get a life.” Thank you for your interest in this venture.