The prevention portion of Ephrata Cares focuses on the Character Matters Program in conjunction with partners Ephrata Area School District, the Ephrata Public Library, Wellspan Health, COMPASSMARK and the Northern Lancaster Hub.
CHARACTER MATTERS Community Initiative Kicks Off
Reinvented concept resembles “Character
We’ve Got It” from 20 years ago
How can a community embody character? What is a trauma-informed community? These questions are driving the work to launching a community initiative, CHARACTER MATTERS. You may remember the late 1990s community initiative
“Character We’ve Got It” that aimed to inspire community members and Ephrata Area School District students to make good decisions and demonstrate admirable character traits. While the work of this initiative spread across local schools,
churches and more, it eventually faded away after about 10 ten
The Ephrata Cares organization, a coalition formed to address the opioid crisis in our community, has inspired the reinvention of a similar concept, CHARACTER MATTERS. Representatives from Ephrata Area School District, WellSpan, The Ephrata Public Library, Compass Mark, the Northern Lancaster County HUB, and more are working together to inspire a trauma-informed community, bring awareness to the initiative, and encourage students and community members.
What is a trauma-informed community? In the late 1980s, an important research project was completed that clearly showed a relationship between early childhood experiences and health and social problems. Those early childhood experiences include what we now know as traumatic experiences that may include living in poverty, having a parent with an addiction or mental illness, and suffering neglect or physical abuse. Typically, the more adverse the experiences the more serious the physical and emotional effects.
A trauma-informed community acknowledges traumatic experiences and wants to foster resiliency, which can help lessen long-term, damaging effects. A trauma-informed community works toward building a community that is safe and trustworthy and provides opportunities for working together.These communities across the nation and the Commonwealth of PA show improvements throughout the community, including less crime, drug use, and teen pregnancy. Data also shows increases in graduations rates, healthy lifestyles, and more.
Being a trauma-informed community and living a life with moral character not only aligns with the mission of Ephrata Cares, but parallels much of the Ephrata Area School District Life Ready Graduate program. Together, with additional community partners, the group created CHARACTER MATTERS to inspire the Ephrata community.
Identified traits will drive the CHARACTER MATTERS initiative each month:
October – Accountability & Responsibility
November – Honesty
December – Altruism
January – Adaptability
February – Compassion & Empathy
March – Integrity
April – Perseverance, Resilience and Grit
May – Continual Learning and Growth Mindset
June – Self-Control
July – Patience
August – Cooperation
September – Respect
Being a community-wide effort, it is the hope that messages highlighting these CHARACTER MATTERS traits will be incorporated in our community library, school classrooms, church sermons, and more. Additionally, look for information to come soon to help grow the initiative through logo-designing contests, social media demos of CHARACTER MATTERS traits in action in the community, and more. By instilling positive and understanding character traits within our community members, it is the hope
that many opportunities will follow to build resiliency and ways to cope with adverse experiences.