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Former Colts player launches program to help develop life skills in the classroom



Indianapolis, Indiana – Even though he no longer wears a helmet, former Colts defensive back Marlin Jackson is still having a significant influence in Indianapolis.

Jackson’s Fight For Life charity introduced a software application that supports social and emotional development in schools.

The experiences Jackson had as a youth and his journey to NFL success served as the basis for the program Building Dreams.

Currently, this computer program is assisting children in overcoming mental and social pressures and figuring out how to go to a prosperous future.

Through Building Dreams, students at Phalen Leadership Academy in Indianapolis can now reward excellent behavior with touchdowns and report friends who are misbehaving or causing disruptions.

“So when they do their check-ins or throw flags that notification is sent to the teachers and also myself so if it is necessary for myself or them to check in with that student we are able to do that,” said Kayla Wood, city connect site coordinator at Phalen Leadership Academy 93.

Students report their feelings at the beginning of the day: joyful, eager, or unhappy. In order for the instructor to understand the children’s mental state at the beginning of the day and the reasons behind it, they can also express why they are feeling that way. Instructors have seen that students can express their feelings more easily in writing than they would if they had to convey them aloud.

“When you face adversities young it makes it very difficult to navigate and be able to find your way. And what we do is provide and infrastructure to school systems to be able to make the connections to help kids see all that they posses inside,” said Jackson, the former Colts defensive back whose interception of Tom Brady propelled the Colts to Super Bowl XLI.

Students can accumulate yards, score touchdowns, and receive points for excellent behavior in the traditional football method.

“I love it how you get extra points like you can give people extra points but then the teacher says not too much because then you’re just getting free points,” said sixth-grader Constantine Kaminski.

If someone witnesses a student engaging in improper, cruel, or dangerous behavior, they may also lose yards or have flags thrown at them. Learners have the option to report it anonymously, and educators can provide justifications for why the flag was thrown.

“I flagged someone for being disruptive in class because they were talking when the teacher was talking,” said Kaminski.

Teachers have been able to better explain to their students how decisions they make both within and outside of the game.

“If we teach these things sooner we will have adults that are capable and empowered to make better decisions and manage their emotions, manage their stressors that come with their relationships,” said Jackson.

Based on the improvements they have already observed in the program’s previous year of use, the school said they intend to begin introducing even more features for Building Dreams.

At least nine Indianapolis schools presently use the software.











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