El Segundo has joined the national Character Counts movement that tries to teach children ethical values and kicked off its commitment to improve the character of the community with a pep talk Tuesday from the program founder.
Michael Josephson told a crowd of about 700 residents, school administrators and city officials at El Segundo High School that the program is a powerful tool against problems such as violence, irresponsibility and dishonesty.
Josephson, a businessman and lawyer, founded the Character Counts Coalition in 1993. The organization is a partnership of nearly 100 national and regional educational and youth organizations that has developed a curriculum to teach kids about six basic values: trustworthiness, responsibility, caring, respect, fairness and citizenship.
His program was adopted by the El Segundo Unified School District. The City Council voted to support the effort.
More than 500 cities nationwide have joined the movement, which consists of an awareness curriculum, much like the DARE anti-drug program taught in schools.
Dana Brown, coordinator of the local effort, said the city was looking to train students, teachers and officials to act more respectfully toward each other.
"We felt this would be a good program for El Segundo because it teaches kids about respect and responsibility," Brown said. "We felt we needed to make these kinds of improvements in the community before we could take on other projects and be successful."
Brown is a member of Leadership El Segundo, a yearlong program sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce to introduce community members to local government. At the end of each year, the 20 graduates of the program select a project to improve the community. The 1995-96 graduating class selected Character Counts and are volunteering to implement the program.