Our September attribute is Courage.

When I think about what it means to have courage, I remember of one of my favourite childhood characters, the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz. All of us at one time or another has felt that we lack courage simply because we are afraid, yet like the cowardly lion we do not understand that feeling the fear and still taking action is really the act of a person of courage.

Webster defines courage as “the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.”  I believe there are two types of courage: moral and physical. We show moral courage when we face personal loss, embarrassment and discouragement and it takes physical courage to deal with hardship, physical pain and illness.

Courageous people are all around us. I have a friend who has demonstrated both moral and physical courage in giving the gift of life as an organ donor, not once but twice. One of my family members has been dealing with a life-threatening illness for over 16 years. I work with police officers who courageously protect us and our communities 365 days a year.  I also know people whose challenges are so great that it takes tremendous courage just to get out of bed in the morning.

At Character Community we see examples of courage in the children, youth and seniors who participate on our programs every day. Imagine the courage it takes for one of our Slap Shot participants who has never skated before to take that first step on the ice.  They are afraid, but they feel the fear, take the step and by the end of the ice time they are still on their feet, smiling and making their way around the rink.

I remember a 10-year-old boy going out on stage to perform a trumpet solo in front of a large audience at one of our Music Alive concerts. There are many adults who would struggle to find the courage to do this.  He also felt the fear, went out on stage and performed a perfect solo.

I had the pleasure of watching one of our Social Justice Day participants, a 13-year-old young woman who was the victim of bullying stand up before an audience of 175 of her peers to talk about her experience and then beautifully perform a song she had written during that time. She too felt the fear but knew that she had to draw on her courage to tell her story to help others.

Consider our seniors in East Gwillimbury, where there are many who feel isolated and alone. They also feel the fear, yet each month we see increasing numbers of seniors taking that first step by attending one of our E.G. Seniors Task Force activities, developing new friendships and becoming included and connected in their community.

We use courage in our programs by empowering individuals to recognize their strengths and to become stronger, more confident and successful in their lives.

I truly believe that the ability to be a courageous person is present in all of us. Here are five ways you can show courage every day:

  1. Stand up for your personal values and beliefs to do what is right even under pressure from others.
  2. Stand up for someone else and support your friends, family and colleagues, even if it is not the popular choice.
  3. Embrace new ideas, new perspectives, other points of view and forgiveness as an opportunity for personal growth.
  4. Hold your head up high and face discouragement, personal loss and embarrassment with dignity.
  5. In times of hardship and physical pain, do what needs to be done to improve your physical and mental well being and support your loved ones.

Remember, even the smallest action can demonstrate great courage.