Empowering the Spirit through The Virtues Project™ A Workshop for Parents and Teachers of the Gifted

Sep 23 2017 - 9:00am to Sep 24 2017 - 4:00pm

Empowering the Spirit through The Virtues Project™

A Workshop for Parents and Teachers of the Gifted


Christine Ayling and Susan Picard

Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada


Sponsored by:

Gifted Development Center

September 23rd – 24th, 2017

Special price for GDC Community before September 8th!

Register prior to September 15th - $180 
Register after September 15th - $270
For more information, contact Christine Ayling at [email protected]


The Virtues Project™ is a global initiative that had its beginnings in 1991. A co-creation by Linda Kavelin-Popov, a psychotherapist, organizational consultant, and community healer; her husband Dr. Dan Popov, a clinical pediatric psychologist and senior computer scientist; and Linda’s brother, John Kavelin, an art director with Walt Disney Imagineering. Researching the world’s sacred texts, they discovered something simple and profound. At the heart of all spiritual traditions are virtues, described as the essence of the human spirit and the content of our character. A guide containing 52 of these universal virtues was published to help parents bring out the best in their children and in themselves. Five Strategies were developed to restore the practice of virtues in everyday life. Other books and support materials followed as word of The Virtues Project spread. The Popovs speak to thousands of people each year and are featured presenters on the television series, “Virtues: A Family Affair.” During the International Year of the Family, the United Nations Secretariat and World Conference of Cities and Corporations honored The Virtues Project™ as “a model global program for families of all cultures.” They have helped heal communities such as Walkerton, Ontario and numerous aboriginal communities using The Virtues Project as a catalyst for the renewal of kindness, justice, integrity and unity. It has found its way into more than 102 countries around the world, has been translated into 39 languages, most recently Danish and Cree, and all of this in less than 25 years.  


It presumes that children are “born in potential,” and we, as the nurturing adults, must seek ways to help them find and own the virtues they possess. It is a transformational process that also allows adults to discover their own virtues. As we seek to address the rising incidence of bullying in our world it has been discovered that a by-product of mindful integration of this project into schools, is a significant decrease in bullying.


This two-day workshop will immerse participants in the vision, mission and five strategies of the virtues, giving them the tools needed to pull the virtues into their daily and professional life.

The Vision of The Virtues Project is to serve humanity by supporting the moral and spiritual development of people of all cultures, by helping them to remember who they really are and to live by their highest values. 

The Mission of The Virtues Project is to provide empowering strategies that inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life through programs of excellence and simplicity which support people of all ages to cultivate their virtues—the gifts of character. 

The Five Strategies of The Virtues Project help us to live more reverent, purposeful lives, to raise children of integrity and compassion, develop a culture of character in our schools, and inspire excellence and service in the workplace. These strategies build foundations for safe and caring communities.


Strategy 1: Speak the Language of the Virtues

Language shapes character. The way we speak, and the words we use, have great power to discourage or to inspire. The language of virtues helps us to replace shaming and blaming with personal responsibility and respect. It is a frame of reference for bringing out the best in children and ourselves. It helps us to become the kind of people we want to be.


Strategy 2: Recognize Teachable Moments 

Recognizing the gifts and life lessons in our daily challenges helps us to cultivate character in ourselves and others. When we have the humility and confidence to learn from our mistakes, every stumbling block becomes a stepping stone. 


Strategy 3: Set Clear Boundaries 

Virtues-based boundaries focus on respect, restorative justice and reparation to create a climate of peace and safety. Personal boundaries help us to build healthy relationships and protect our time, our energy and our health.


Strategy 4: Honor the Spirit

This strategy begins with respect for the dignity of each person and encourages us to make time for reflection, reverence, and beauty. It is expressing what is meaningful in our lives by participating in the arts, honoring special life events, and sharing our stories. Creating Vision Statements increases unity and morale in our homes, schools and workplaces.


Strategy 5: Offer Spiritual Companioning

By being deeply present and listening with compassion and detachment, we help others ‘to empty their cup.’ This counseling approach empowers others to define teachable moments and to reflect on their virtues. It supports moral choice, intimacy in relationships, and peaceful conflict resolution. This process is a powerful tool for healing grief, anger, and trauma.


Christine Ayling

I trained as a Virtues Project™ facilitator in 2002. Embracing and integrating the tenets of this project has transformed the way I see myself as a human being and my way of being in the world. Therefore, it has substantially altered the way I work with colleagues, clients and the practicum students it has been my privilege to mentor and learn with. Amongst its many brilliant components is a foundational perspective on understanding the critical balance between compassion and detachment—the bedrock of a grounded helping professional. As a wife, sister, daughter, mother, social worker, parent advocate, and singer I am passionate about the potential this initiative holds for providing a language and context for exploring, discussing, and growing those qualities that build us into purposeful, mindful, compassionate, loving, gentle, assertive, fully human, human beings, connected in powerful relationship to those around us. I am happily married to my husband, Wayne, for 40 years, and have two beautiful children: Britt and Christopher, and two wonderful granddaughters. Wayne and I live in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada.


Susan Picard

I trained as a Virtues Facilitator in 2016 after being introduced to it in 2003 and using the Virtues Project™ in my work as educator, market manager and artistic coordinator of numerous interdisciplinary community development projects. Since 2009, I have been the Gifted Education Program Coordinator for my school district. I have worked extensively to gain a better understanding of how to incorporate the virtues into curriculum, which includes the development of social/emotional competencies. I have observed the Virtues Project™ transform workplaces, group work and individuals, most importantly, myself. My most recent academic work has been to look for links between Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Integration and the five strategies of the Virtues Project™ to see how they could work together in supporting personality development through autopsychotherapy. I currently live across the street from my Virtues mentor, Christine, with my steadfast husband, two very independent daughters, several excellent guitars and a rather compassionate rabbit.


Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion for 12 Contact Hours