C2 is easy for educators to navigate and present, engages and interests students, is very interactive, and is inexpensive, especially the per student cost of C2 Online.  Teens love the Peer Chat, Positive Psychology exercises, and clips from hit movies like Interstellar, Selma, and Avengers to illustrate 28 character strengths Best of all, many teens report that their experience in C2 was transformational. C2 is the first comprehensive training program for teens based on Positive Psychology (PP). PP is has the very best conceptualization and research of character strengths.

Psychologist Martin Seligman, former president of the APA [American Psychological Association] and father of Positive Psychology, found that the secret to happiness was character strength. These 28 are a comprehensive list covering all primary character strengths (link to Definition of Strengths).

Each lesson follows the same template for continuity and ease of preparation: Introduction and famous quote (30 seconds), Briefing (3 minutes), Movie Clip (3 minutes), Peer Chat (3 minutes), and 30 seconds for transitions. Total time = 10 minutes. The exceptions are the 15 Positive Psychology exercises. These take the same amount of time and most contain a movie clip.

C2 has two delivery systems: C2 Online and C2 Toolkit. Each includes the same lessons, movie clips, and information: Famous quote and illustration Briefing: A presentation explaining aspects of the character strength Briefing Keys: Fill-in-the-blank statements outlining the Briefing Movie clips with Peer Chat: Discussion questions that may also be used as blogging or journal questions. This peer interaction help teens integrate the strength into their lives.

The Liston Group encourages you to teach one of the three collections (Performance, Relationship, and Motivation Character) each year. This way you provide comprehensive character education. Both C2 Online and C2 Toolkit are organized into these three collections.

Often a character strength is the same or very similar but though the words differ. Because we have self-published C2, we can re-write any session to make the title and wording appropriate for your program. For a custom quote, please contact us.

When the judge asked for a character training curriculum, we checked out the others on the market. Our ‘panel of experts’ [actual at-risk teens] judged them as “lame” [Translation: Uninteresting, uninspiring, and not ‘cool’]. Our opinion was that they were designed for the kids who needed them least: The kids who already had high levels of character strength. We believed that if we designed the training to be highly interesting, interactive, and challenging, it would appeal not only to at-risk teens but to all teens. Our pilot groups proved this accurate. Our high-functioning adolescents [honor roll students] reported similar interest in and transformation from their experience with C2.

Secondary Education: Middle, junior high, senior high, alternative schools, PTO’s and PTA’s, charter schools, religious schools, and home school organizations use C2. Settings may be advisory period, core classes, family and consumer sciences, health, history, language arts, in-school suspension, detention, school counselor presentations, assemblies, positive justice groups, Expanded Learning Opportunity [ELO] curriculum, a Drop-Out Prevention and Recovery strategy, or a curriculum for special needs or at-risk students. 

Juvenile Justice: state youth services, departments of family and children’s services, diversion and remediation programs, and private contractors of youth services 

Mental health therapists: in-patient units, out-patient services, groups. C2 is a solution-focused approach that emphasizes client abilities rather than their liabilities. Teens are much more responsive and see better results when their strengths are the primary discussion and therapeutic focus. 

Residential Treatment Centers: group homes, foster care programs, boarding schools 

Recovery Programs and Substance Abuse Facilities: Most teens who abuse don’t respond well to character training. It seems to remind them of their failure. We designed C2 with them in mind and they have responded. 

After-School Programs: Character Club, Four H, Student Government, Leadership, Ethics, service clubs. 

Community Service Organizations: One of C2’s most enthusiastic users is a Kiwanis Club in Williamsburg, Virginia, that purchased C2 in 2009, used it continuously for 7 years, and ordered the third edition in 2016.

A great deal of credit for C2: Character Challenge goes to Martin Seligman and Chris Peterson, creators and pioneers in the field of Positive Psychology.  I quoted and borrowed heavily from the insights found in their text, Character Strengths and Virtues (2004). 

I am also heavily indebted to Dr. Peterson for directing our initial research.  His knowledge for character development was only exceeded by his passion for the subject.  Thank you, Chris, for giving me permission for my shameless name-dropping.  I trust you rest in peace (deceased 2012).

To Bill Gothard for showing me the importance of character in my early years and for all he taught me regarding character.

To all the little people who made these amazing movies and the studios who allow us to use them:  Columbia, Disney, Fox, Paramount, Universal, and Warner Brothers.

To Cameron Skinner who took over scripting the movie clips, proofed them, and recruited James Swafford to edit them.

Despite my desire for perfection, the proofreading skills of Beth Dayton were my salvation.  Thank you, Beth.

To Rick Starkweather and Jim Snyder, my dear friends who provided countless support and encouragement that carried me through the tough times.


C2 is designed with these Best Practice strategies:

Based on the best conceptualization from complementary fields of research

Aligns with Common Core Standards in its cognitive, developmental, and social-emotional training (Famous Quotes, Briefing, and Key Words)

Professional Development available to assist training administration, teachers, and support staff in order to develop the professional culture to model character

Engaging illustrations (movie clips)

Peer discussion (Peer Chat Questions)

Life application (Introduction, Life Practice, Peer Chat Questions, and Commitment)

User-friendly, intuitive layout designed in Adobe Captivate (C2 Online)


Standardized lesson template for ease of use

Though C2 provides comprehensive training in character strengths, it is not designed to be your entire Character Education Initiative.  Liston Group assumes schools and organizations interested in C2 have their own program design and see C2 as an important tool within it.


Application of Truth to Life

Character must be “caught as it is taught.”  This requires opportunities to practice its principles.  C2 designed its Introduction, Peer Chat Questions, and Commitment sections for this purpose.  In addition, many strengths have a lesson that includes Life Practices.  These are Positive Psychology exercises that have researched and proven effective in helping adolescents internalize moral values and express character strengths in their attitudes, ethics, and behavior.



C2 is designed for a) ease of use, b) brevity of lessons for maximum flexibility, and optimizing student attention span.  All C2 lessons use the same template and are 10-15 minutes long.  

Trainers may use multiple lessons if they have more time.

Here are some ideas on how you can teach C2’s 144 lessons:

Infuse them in the core curriculum in any subject

Advisory:  144 ten-minute lessons or 72 twenty-minute lessons when more time is available

Group: 24 60 to 75-minute lessons for weekly training, use in block classes, etc.

Solo: 144 ten-minute lessons for students in detention or In-School Suspension to assist their understanding of the school’s character expectations in a non-confrontive, engaging manner.  Rather than peer discussion, this format employs “blogging” or reflective writing questions that follow each Briefing and movie clip.  We use the term blogging because teens understand and show more interest in this concept than ‘journaling’ or ‘reflective writing.’  Life Practices (Positive Psychology exercises) are also done through blogging.

Progressions and Timeframe for each C2 Lesson

    Introduction: 10 seconds

    Quotation: 20 seconds

    Briefing: 3 minutes

    Briefing Keys: (Students fill in the blanks during Briefing)

    Movie Clip (3 minutes)

    Peer Chat (3 minutes)

C2 History (1967 to Today)

While C2: Character Challenge was copyrighted in 2007, its history began in 1967.  Then an abused, bullied, poor seventh-grader with ADHD was without hope.  “Sonny” had two shirts, one pair of pants, and shoes with holes.  No one would let him sit with them in the cafeteria.  He sank deeper into depression, unable to even eat for weeks.  The taunt “Reject” haunted him.

Summer break was a relief and a new school helped.  One day a cheerleader told Sonny, “You aren’t as bad as you think.”  She encouraged him to ask for Divine help and he did.

The help came immediately in three forms:  

Awareness of his insecurity, words, and behavior that caused others to reject him;

Character training that pointed him in a healthy direction; and

Support from a few adults though he still had no friends.

In months, Sonny transformed into a teen who didn’t care if some rejected him and enjoyed his healthy relationships.  He was more confident and happier.  His humor blossomed and his courage and resilience were evident.  The nickname, a slur in his Southern town, was dropped as he became well-liked.  His last name was the same as a recent black heavyweight boxing champion, Sonny Liston.  Now his classmates called him Mark.

Mark enjoyed accomplishments in football, drama, and music during high school.  He completed college, seminary, and graduate school with high honors.  Mark wanted to help teens, becoming a youth director and later a professional counselor.  

In 2005, an adolescent judge asked Mark to create a character training curriculum for teens in state custody.  The judge said, “Most of these kids are here because of what their parents did wrong.  We feed, clothe, and educate them, but we aren’t giving them a life.  We have them for a short window of time.  If we don’t help them, they will grow up to be deadbeats or criminals like their parents.”

Mark spent and sacrificed hundreds of thousands of dollars to create, promote, research, and publish C2.  Completed in 2007, C2 (as of 2016) is used in 32 US states and four other countries.  This is C2’s second edition though it has been updated and reformatted numerous times.


When you are on the Dashboard and you click on one of the 24 chapters.  Instead of opening the lesson, an Adobe page opens and says you must download Adobe Flash Player.  Even after you do, you will get this same page instead of the lesson.

Fix:  Open a new tab in your browser.

                Click on the three vertical dots on the upper far right side of the tab.

                In the drop-down box that appears, look near the bottom and click on “Settings.”

                At the bottom of the page, click on “Advanced Settings.”

                Under “Privacy,” click on the first blue box “Content Settings.”

                Scroll down to “Flash” and click the first option, “Allow sites to run Flash.”

                Click “Done” at the bottom of the page, close the tab, and you are finished.


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