By Tim Shoults
Patience is a virtue, as the saying goes. So are love, compassion, understanding. courage and about 47 others.
That's according to the Virtues Project, a made-in-B.C. program that's gone global with a message of moral living.
"The virtues are the qualities that are in each one of us," says Mojdeh Rameshni, who will be speaking at a public information meeting on the Virtues Project next Sunday (Jen. 19) at the Squamish Public Library.
The meeting, which takes place at the B.C. Hydro Meeting Room from 1 to 3 p.m., is presented by the Squamish Virtues Committee, a group that is working to implement the Virtues Project locally.
Rameshni, a trained Virtues Project facilitator, is a former Squamish resident, now studying child and youth care counselling at Douglas College in New Westminster.
She first learned about the Virtues Project through her mother, and became interested in facilitators' training after meeting project founder Linda Kavelin Popov in Abbotsford two years ago.
The Virtues Project was founded in 1991 by Popov, a psychotherapist from Salt Spring Island. She, her husband and her brother were at the Empress in Victoria having brunch and talking about how they could serve humanity, Rameshni explains.
What they came up with is the Virtues Project, which identifies 52 key virtues, such as forgiveness, respect, generosity, service, and consideration — and strategies for implementing them in the home, in schools, at the workplace and in society in general.
"It's really about developing your character and understanding that we have the potential to be the best," says Rameshni. "It's just a matter of teaching ourselves slowly, day by day."
During their research of sacred texts from difference cultures and religions, the Popovs discovered that the virtues were universally accepted by all religions. The Family Virtues Manual they developed uses selections from a variety of texts, from Christianity to Islam to Buddhism, Judaism and the Baha'i Faith, to illustrate the virtues.
An Educator's Guide has also been developed that does not include religious writings, allowing the virtues to be taught in secular schools. Two schools in Squamish are among those that are using Virtues Project materials for the development of character and self-esteem.
"Without being religious and believing in God, you can still want your children to be kind or to be loving…these are qualities people look for in others and themselves," Rameshni says.
The project has caught on around the world, with major companies such as Hallmark Cards and boys and girls' clubs across North America signing on.
In 1994, during International Year of the Family, the United Nations secretariat commended the Virtues Project as "a model global program for families of all cultures."
The Squamish Virtues Committee, founded last year, has been actively promoting the Virtues Project in the community, handing out virtues cards and magnets at public events, running a "Virtue of the Week" in The Chief and bringing facilitators to local schools to explain the project to teachers.
Admission to next Sunday's meeting's is free, and a draw will be made for a free Family Virtues Manual.
For more information on the Virtues Committee call 604-898-5033.
©Copyright 2003, The Chief (BC, Canada)
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