On Thursday, March 29 2018, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and United Way Suncoast celebrated the first year of Character Playbook, an innovative digital learning program focused on youth character development and building healthy relationships.
80 students from Franklin Middle School and Walker Middle School in Hillsborough County arrived at One Buccaneer Place, where they took part in a panel discussion in the team’s auditorium led by Buccaneers Team Insider Casey Phillips, tight end Alan Cross, cheerleader Julia, Director of Community Relations Meredith Scerba and United Way Suncoast Tampa Bay Area President Emery Ivery. Students were given a ‘true’ and ‘false’ card to raise accordingly when a question was posed. Questions were relevant to the media’s influence on young people, the importance of role models and the value of healthy relationships.
Afterwards, the group moved to the team’s indoor practice facility to rotate through seven activity stations focused on using football to relay lessons about social-emotional learning and healthy communication. One group crawled through an inflatable obstacle course to exercise perseverance, another group threw footballs towards each other in a ‘pass and catch’ exercise to demonstrate the importance of communication. As afternoon approached, WWE’s Titus O’Neil surprised everyone with a visit and spoke to the students about the importance of hard work and respect.
The Character Playbook is the latest innovation in the more than 40-year partnership between the NFL and United Way in response to the issues affecting young people, including bullying, cyberbullying and teen dating violence. The Character Playback is suitable for students in grades seven, eight and nine, and engages students with true-to-life scenarios that include bystander intervention strategies and positive relationship examples.The initiative was launched nationally during the 2016 NFL Draft and is powered by education technology leader EverFi.