In a balance between entertainment and knowledge, Fax Gilbert presented three assemblies to Storm Lake elementary and middle school students to introduce the six pillars of the Character Counts programs Wednesday.
The mime/magician who grew up in Massachusetts, has lived in Iowa since 1990. He has presented over 2,000 school assemblies in the Midwest over that time.
The title of his performance, "How to be Happy - Developing Character in Kids," was mixed with mime, magic and skits to help capture the attention of the students and help ion deliver the strong character messages.
The six pillars of Character Counts that he discussed with the students are:
"Trustworthiness means honesty, telling the truth and not making excuses," Gilbert told the students.
Using three ropes of different sizes, representing three different types of lies, he pointed out that "they all may be different sizes but they're all the same." He added that lying is like avoiding something or hiding something.
"You need to stand up to your fears. That strengthens your character. It's always best to tell the truth."
He went on. "The second character is respect.. The golden rule is to treat others the way you want to be treated. It's easy to say but sometimes it's hard to do.
"When you hurt someone or put them down, you feel it, too. If someone is hurting you, talk to them about it and if they won't listen, talk to a friend, your teacher or your parents. We're all worthy of respect."
He told the students that pushing, tripping, making fun of people, teasing or leaving someone out are all forms of disrespect.
"You need to respect yourself, too. Never take pills unless they are given to you by your parents or a doctor. And stay away from cigarettes."
He continued on about responsibility.
"Responsibility means keeping your promise. You have responsibilities and so do I. You need to follow through with your responsibilities so people know they can trust you."
Fairness was the net area he discussed.
"Fairness is sharing, not cheating and giving people a chance. Life is not always fair. You can do one of two things about it. You can whine and complain and make everyone miserable or you can accept what you can't change and wait for something better to come along."
He told the students caring means to look out for others. "The strength of this character is doing things when they're not easy; it's in your heart."
He completed the six pillars by talking about citizenship.
"Learning to read and write or doing things you like to do, these are things you can get good at so you can give back to the community someday."
The students kept their attention on Gilbert through the entire show and laughed out loud, revealing how happy they were, as he presented his program. It is hoped the information that he shares with the students sticks with them always and helps make them better people.
The three assemblies were sponsored in part by a $400 Arts In Education Grant from the Iowa Arts Council. The grant is part of a statewide initiative to teach children about good character. Several grant-approved artists, including Gilbert, have been trained in the Character Counts concepts and language which emphasize the six pillars.