Friday, June 02, 2006

SAGE club

My friend Barbara Ayash of the Set A Good Example Club recently sent me some pictures of murals that were put together by juvenile inmates of a correctional facility in California. These kids were participants in the "Set a Good Example" program that Barbara founded. So far more than 12 million kids representing more than 12,600 schools in all 50 US states have participated in the Set a Good Example program. The SAGE club is the result of a proven moral education program used by teachers and students (with parental approval) in schools across the United States. The word SAGE, of course, is an acronym for "Set a Good Example". Barbara is the creator of this program and has spearheaded applying the moral code it is built upon (The Way to Happiness) in helping clean up gang violence in Los Angeles, in prisons, and in schools. The Sage club is unique in the field of moral education in that it teaches 21 commonly accepted virtues and values based strictly on common sense. It is completely non-religious. 88% of students involved in the club want to participate again, which is pretty amazing.

Principal Vanessa Barbour of the Lockeland Middle School in Nashville, Tennessee, saw her school turn around after implementing the program.

"We have decreased violence by 70%-80% over the school year. We have decreased disrespectful attitudes toward teachers, decreased vulgar language and gestures... You name it, it's better."

Here's a photo of one of several murals painted by youth between 12 and 17 detained by Juvenile Justice Authorities. This mural depicts two of the precepts from The Way to Happiness: "Don't harm a person of goodwill" and "Be worthy of trust."

The Way to Happiness book itself explains and gives simple examples of why it is important to have these points as part of one's own moral code. It makes sense to kids and their parents both. Hard to argue with that kind of common sense.

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