Winning with family values

By Natalie Lariccia

This tournament is designed to challenge families to discuss basic values — and enter to win a Wii.

With winter just over and the temperature beginning to rise, basketball tournaments are heating up with the annual March Madness season.

Based on the popular National Collegiate Athletic Association’s basketball tournament brackets, Akron Children’s Hospital staff members are hoping area families will take a time-out from the madness of everyday life to participate in its Family Values Tournament, an elimination-round tournament.

The Family Values Tournament is a fun opportunity for families to spend quality time together discussing key life values, said Dr. Geoffrey Putt, pediatric psychologist and director of Parenting and Family Services at Akron Children’s main campus in Akron.

The tournament concept was well-received when it was originally created by a former Akron Children’s employee for the 1995 tournament season. With this year’s March Madness in full swing, Akron Children’s staff thought it would be a good idea to reintroduce the tournament to the Mahoning Valley market, said Dr. Putt.

How it works

The tournament encourages families to review pairings in the first round of each division. The pairings include basic core life values such as compassion/empathy, loyalty, generosity, fairness, respect and courage. Families will then select the values that are the most meaningful from each pairing and advance these values to the second round.

As families advance to the second and third rounds, the values and related examples may become more challenging. Families can proceed to the Final Four or spread the four and final round selections over a few days, similar to an actual basketball tournament.

Dr. Putt encourages families to discuss each value and to give examples of the values and how they apply in everyday life situations. He hopes the tournament will help to foster open communication and to encourage families to sit down together, participating in an interactive activity. The goal is for families to establish their four core family values.

“There are no right or wrong answers. It’s what is important for each family. It’s an opportunity to interact with your family in a meaningful, fun way,” Dr. Putt said.

Reason behind it

With the stress and multiple responsibilities many families face, it is often difficult for parents and children to share quality discussion time together, he said. Participating in activities like the Family Values Tournament is one way families can overcome this obstacle and build solid communication skills, he said.

“Hopefully it will stimulate other opportunities to do things together. The idea is the more activities we can do as a family, the more it will strengthen the overall family relationship.” Dr. Putt said.

Bonus feature

Completed brackets that are mailed to Akron Children’s Hospital’s Boardman campus by April 1 will be eligible for a random drawing for a free Nintendo Wii gaming system.

Dr. Putt said the tournament is a good way to reinforce Akron Children’s connection with the Mahoning Valley. In 2005, Akron Children’s formed a partnership with Humility of Mary Health Partners to enhance the level of care for Mahoning Valley children and teens.

Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley opened at its Beeghly Campus on Market Street in Boardman in December 2007.


Dr. Putt, who recently joined Akron Children’s NeuroDevelopmental Center, oversees the Triple P: Positive Parenting Program at Akron Children’s.

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