“If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say . . . ”

JMG Specialist Becky Bardosy recalls the personal connection that one Greenville JMG student had with the Lifejackets program run by the Charlotte White Center. “This young woman had participated in Lifejackets – which some of my students called ‘JMG after school’. She told the class about a day when she was canoeing with a young man on a Lifejackets outing, and was growing more and more aggravated about his inability to paddle or steer. They got to a rock in the river and she told him to just get out and she paddled away. . . She then said that because of the positive decision-making skills and leadership ability she had learned through the Lifejackets programs, she went back and picked him up – whereas a few years ago she probably would have left him there!”

Constructive arguments, personal testimonials, the ability to have a disagreement without fighting—Becky’s 22 middle and high school students in Greenville used most of these decision-making experiences in the JOY process. Becky required that each student express his or her thoughts in a rational and thoughtful way or perhaps talk about a connection to an organization as the canoeing student had. “Independent of the private voting process, each student had to express an opinion or thought about the nonprofit applicants. They realized the power of persuasive argument, and how to influence someone else with constructive approaches rather than just telling that person that he or she is wrong.”