Brian Cox - ORGANIZE | Not in Our Town

Brian Cox - ORGANIZE

Grade Level: 
Middle School (6-8)
High School (9-12)

As a former pro football player, Brian Cox understands the value of teamwork and community in achieving a goal. After retiring from the NFL, Cox came back to his native Los Angeles, witnessing the destruction that gang violence had wrought on his old neighborhood.

As an administrator for the Parks Department, Cox became the director of the South Park Recreation Center and began efforts to improve the park.

Through the common bond of football and community, Cox and his supporters led a campaign to improve the park to create a safe space for youth to gather and practice sports. Eventually gaining the trust of the community, Cox has transformed the park from a gang hangout to a vibrant family destination, improving the surrounding neighborhood at the same time.

This lesson addresses the following SEL strategies and you can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves.

  • Self-awareness: Brian Cox realizes he has the ability to improve his old neighborhood and help curb the gang violence.
  • Self-management: Brian Cox believes he can make a change in his community and does not let the circumstances of the situation hinder him from making a positive impact on his community.
  • Social awareness: In order to successfully pull his community together, Brian Cox recognizes the different cultures existing in the community and works with people from varying backgrounds.
  • Relationship skills: Brian Cox decides to bring a distraught community together by establishing and maintaining working relationships with those directly in the community including former gang members, parents and youth.
  • Responsible decision-making: Although Brian Cox could have easily cleaned up the park itself, he works to make a lasting difference by constantly including the community as part of the change.

1.  Prior to showing the video, briefly explain the primary themes of the video. Use some or all of the following questions (include at least one writing prompt):

a. What does the term community mean? Or what makes a community, a community? Describe your own community.

b. Why is it important to set goals in life? Do you have any role models who have set goals in their lives? What did they do to achieve them or what are they currently doing to achieve them?

c. What are some of your own goals for the future? How do you plan on achieving your goals? What are some obstacles you may face and how might you overcome them?

d. What kind of education do you need to achieve your goals? What are your thoughts on pursuing a higher level of education?

2.  After watching the video, engage students in a dialogue about the film using some or all of the following questions (include at least one writing prompt) :

a. What is Brian Cox’s objective or goal and how does he achieve it? How does he incorporate the community in achieving this goal?

b. What problems do you see in your community? Brainstorm ideas on what you can do as a group, to make a positive change in your community.

c. When faced with a challenge, how do you react? Think of a time when you were faced with a challenge and had to ask others to help out. Describe the challenge, what you did, and how others helped you with it. Discuss any obstacles you faced and how you overcame them.

d. Do you think that Brian would have been able to successfully fulfill his goal without teamwork? Why or why not?

Extension Activities

1. Often when we are asked to identify heroes and people who make a difference, we neglect to consider the people in our own community. Have the students research their own community and find leaders and heroes who may not have been widely recognized, but who have worked to make the world a better place. Have students interview those people and make a presentation to their peers. Be sure they include some of that person’s biography to show how they got to where they are and the qualities and actions that make these people our local heroes.

2. When we learn about leaders, we rarely hear about all the people who worked to make the changes possible. Have the students research  and write reports about the following leaders of the civil rights movement and share their role in making change:

Daisy Bates, Bayard Rustin, Claudette Colvin, Medgar Evers, and Jo Ann Robinson.

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