Schools today are centered on the latest in technology, and that was on display Monday morning when Arthur Moats took part in Character Playbook Live, a virtual classroom experience that the NFL, United Way and Everfi have combined to offer.
Moats skyped with students from middle schools in the Pittsburgh area, with the main focus on character development and healthy relationships.
"It was a blast," said Moats. "Any time we are able to have these dialogues and educate youth on character, conflict, how to handle peer pressure, it's going to go a long way and ultimately make the world a better place. If you can educate a person on things they are going to be potentially dealing with currently and down the road, they can understand it and find ways to have success against it. If they know they are going to be faced with these issues, they can get their mind right now and have discussions with their classmates about it. It's going to help them be successful against the obstacles that come, and at the end of the day make them more successful people."
After he welcomed the students, he challenged them to a game of true or false. Moats asked the questions and the students held up cards with the answers. The questions ranged from who their view of the world is shaped by, to peer influences, something that middle school students are greatly impacted by, and other topics.
"We all know peer pressure can be both good and bad," Moats told the students. "It's important to understand which is which in certain situations. There is positive and negative peer pressure. We always want to be positive because that is what's it's all about."
It was then time for the students to ask Moats questions, a unique opportunity for them to talk to an NFL player and get his take on different issues that they face. And Moats didn't hold back on his answers. He shared his feelings, his thoughts, and wasn't afraid to be honest when asked what advice he would give to his 'middle school self.'
"I wasn't actually a good person back in middle school," Moats replied. "I was going through some things. My behavior wasn't as good. I would tell myself back then, focus on school, breathe and relax when you get upset. It would have to be breathe. I would get upset and be quick to react to things. It got me in a lot of trouble in middle school and early high school years. If I could go back, that is the one thing I would tell myself. At the same time, I am fortunate of the experiences I had. It helped shape me into the person I am today."
Character Playbook Live was instituted to help middle school students engage in productive conversation on character and cultivate and maintain healthy relationships. And what better way to get their attention, than through the positive influence of an NFL player who has been down the same path a lot of them have. "One of the biggest focuses of the work at United Way of Southwestern Pa. is children and youth, doing preventative and proactive work with kids to hopefully prevent anything bad from happening," said Katie McGregor, corporate relations manager for United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. "That is something we have been doing at United Way for so many years. This is our first year doing Character Playbook Live and it molded so well with the values and focus of United Way."