Program teaches a new virtue each week

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In an effort to engage children and encourage positive behavior, the Early Childhood Advisory Committee of the Children and Families Council has launched the Virtues Project.

The initiative introduces a new virtue each week along with a set of explanations that child care providers, teachers and parents can use to educate children and promote an affirmative message. 

Ellie Hirsh, the advisory committee’s coordinator, said the idea for the Virtues Project came out of the social and emotional health workgroup of the the Early Childhood Advisory Committee.

“We were talking about how we really needed something positive in our community and especially something positive for the children,” Hirsh said. “The whole idea is for the community to start talking about positive messages and positive issues.”

The project is being facilitated by the Family Connection, a V.I. Community Foundation initiative to foster early childhood development and provide resources for child care professionals and parents.

The purpose of the Virtues Project is to build communities by using 52 virtues pulled from religions and cultures.

Each week a different virtue — such as “compassion,” “love,” “integrity,” and “respect” — is highlighted. The virtues are defined and accompanied by an affirmation children can say to connect themselves with that virtue.

The Children and Families Council is working in collaboration with the V.I. Education Department to infuse V.I. culture into the messages and to implement The Virtues Project in the public schools. Hirsh said the schools will use local storytelling and parables to showcase the weekly traits.

The Department of Human Services will disseminate the weekly virtues along with suggested activities to Head Start and child care centers.

 “In the meantime, we want the entire community to be involved, not just the children. We want the message to be reinforced in the home,” Hirsh said.

To spread the word, the Family Connection is appealing for participation from churches, nonprofits, businesses, child care, schools, and anyone who’s interested. Hirsh said anyone or any group can sign up to receive the virtue of the week.

The goal is to engage the entire community in a positive discussion.

“We’re hoping that as it moves on it’ll build momentum,” Hirsh said.

She said the virtues are being paired with holidays and events that occur throughout the year. For example, during exam week the “excellence” virtue will be highlighted. “Joy” will be discussed the week of Christmas, and “courage” will come up during Black History Month.

“We’re trying to pair them up with things that are happening already,” Hirsh said.

For more information contact Mona Charles at 774-6031 or or Donnalie Edwards-Cabey at 774-0990 or or visit


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