Thousands of junior and senior high schools across America will have the opportunity to share with students a pioneering life skills program, The Confidence Factor™, created by Jess Weiner, author of the best-selling books, "A Very Hungry Girl" and "Life Doesn't Begin Five Pounds From Now," and widely known for her role as Dove's Global Self-Esteem Ambassador.
Introduced by Jostens at a time when parents, teachers, PTAs and principals are concerned about the negative impact that bullying, teasing and unrealistic Hollywood imagery are taking on adolescent self-confidence, The Confidence Factor arrives as a multi-media supplemental life skills program for grades 8-12.
Among the inspiring video interviews featured in the Confidence Factor from Jostens curriculum:
- Kalen, a 17-year-old homeless high school student who hid her homelessness from her friends, sleeping in McDonald's parking lots with her family. Kalen recounts how she had the courage to tell teachers about her dire situation. "Once I broke down and opened up, my teacher said 'I am with you, I have your back,' and I said 'No way, people care about me to help me go through this, I'm not alone?' I had the courage to step out and dream big and finish school and here I am, so you can do it too."
- McKinley, now 16, born with dilated cardiomyopathy, which entailed open heart surgery at the age of five. Growing up with a scar on her chest, McKinley talks in "The Confidence Factor" about being ashamed of wearing low-cut clothing or swimsuits that might reveal her scar – until she met other kids at Heart Camp. "They taught me to have the confidence to own my scar. It's my battle scar, it showed a journey," says McKinley. "You know, these things that make you different? They make you special."
Release of The Confidence Factor curriculum this month could not be more timely. Studies show that 78 percent of girls with low self-esteem admit that it's hard to feel good in school when they do not feel good about how they look.
The Confidence Factor addresses cultural concerns that can cause poor body image and insecurity issues for both male and female students. Exercises range from "Gossip Interrupted," which builds compassion for peers who might be victims of hurtful comments, to "Dear Media" letters that students write to dissect the attributes that TV and magazines define as being evidence of confidence. Teachers are provided with facilitator guides, lesson plans and full-color posters. Other original features of The Confidence Factor include:
- An exploration of the nature of courage through a discussion about civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
- Character-building discussions inspired by a video of the original song, "I Want To Be The One," from indie folk-rock band Raining Jane.
- Out-of-classroom interaction on Facebook, blogs, Pinterest and other social media channels.
The Confidence Factor supplements a school's core curriculum, and may be used in homeroom, health classes or as an addition to existing leadership courses and extracurricular activities.
"Growing up today is more difficult than it's ever been, says Charley Nelson, Jostens' Director of Educator Services. "Students face increasing pressures daily. The Confidence Factor program can help students develop character traits that lead to better decision-making skills, and contribute to a school culture based upon dignity and respect. We're honored that acclaimed author Jess Weiner worked with Jostens to develop The Confidence Factor for distribution to schools across America."
"There's so much talk about confidence being a factor in a student's success," adds Weiner, who is also a contributing editor for Seventeen magazine. "Jostens and I wanted to take a step back with this curriculum and unpack the emotional and character-driven qualities that a young person needs first, in order to express that confidence. This isn't about developing surface self-esteem – which can appear as arrogance. Rather, the Confidence Factor is about building a more well-rounded student, who contributes to their school culture, speaks up about injustice happening in the hallways, and paves the path for a clearer future for themselves."
Designed to be flexible and meet the needs of any school, The Confidence Factor modules may be used individually or sequentially. Additionally, modules are segmented into three time intervals, from a 20-minute high level overview and discussion to a 60-minute traditional class period or more. To order The Confidence Factor, educators may call their local Jostens representative or visit Jostens.com/confidencefactor.
Minneapolis-based Jostens supports schools and educators through a variety of products, programs and services that help people tell their stories, celebrate important traditions and recognize achievements. The company's products include school yearbooks and other memory book products, scholastic products such as class rings and graduation products, and products for athletic champions and their fans. Jostens is a subsidiary of Visant Corporation, a marketing and publishing services enterprise servicing the school affinity, direct marketing, fragrance and cosmetics sampling and educational and trade publishing segments.
About Jess Weiner
Jess Weiner, founder and CEO of Talk To Jess, a company specializing in social messaging strategy, works with Jostens, Mattel, Disney, Walmart, ABC Family and Girl Scouts. As an adjunct professor at USC's Annenberg School of Journalism, contributing editor for Seventeen Magazine, Dove's Global Self-Esteem Ambassador and frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and CNN ShowBiz Tonight, Jess understands the unique pressures that young people in our country face and is eager to work with Jostens to make a change nationwide. She was recently named by Forbes as one of "14 Power Women to Follow" on Twitter.