by Jane Igharo
Toronto – “Please” and “Thank you” are common sense. Most children grow up with the clear understanding that it is polite to say those words in order to show respect. Judi Vankevich thinks that this common knowledge is starting to get lost is today’s fast paced society. That is why she has taken the name “The Manners Lady” and is on a mission to teach manners to children.
Vankevich is internationally known by her title and works to influence the behaviour of a young generation who often forget the importance of courtesy. Her vibrant voice and her catchy, cheerful, award-winning music gets every child in the mood to learn the rules of politeness.
Vankevich was a model in her early days, and had ambitious of being Canada’s next prime mister, but she abandoned those dreams, and decided instead to have a positive influence on the next generation of young people by instilling moral values in them.
Vankevich now travels around the world to teach manners to children who might lack some. Her teaching goes beyond cultural boundaries because she believes that each culture has its own version of the golden rules that often need to be re-established. Vankevich’s teachings go beyond the basics. She also incorporates the teachings of self-government and the distinctions between right and wrong into her lessons.
During her lessons, she teaches children the importance of self-control. She believes that self-control is a vital part of obtaining good manners. Learning how to control one’s emotions, attitude and actions and ultimately taking responsibility for oneself all contributes to courtesy. Although the subjects of Vankevich’s teachings are stern, they are also fun.
“I am teaching universal values that parents want their children to learn. The only difference is we made it fun; we made it with music and we do it with games and we created the bad manners monsters,” Vankevich said in a telephone interview with Centennial journalism students.
For Vankevich, who is based in Vancouver, manners go a long way; they set the foundation for a strong family and a well-rounded society.
According to The Manners Lady, manners help strengthen the family. Vankevich believes that gratitude and respect are foundations of good manners that can help construct the well-being of a family and establish domestic decency. Simply saying “Thanks honey for dinner,” or “Thanks for working so hard,” can meet a family member’s desire to feel appreciated, respected and special. Whether it is a family member or a stranger down the street, Vankevich believes that gratitude and respect can possibly help them through a difficult time.
While these little gestures can be the glue that holds a family together, the lack of it can also contribute to a corrupt society that runs rampant with crimes.
“It’s just so frustrating because we see the government throwing money at these gangs problems, and if they could just teach manners and respect, of course it’s much deeper than that, but look at every headline in the Toronto Star.
“They say murder, drug abuse all of them are either not respecting other people like hurting them, not respecting their property like stealing something or not respecting yourself like drug abuse…it’s all bad manners,” Vankevich said.
Although please, thank you and the golden rules can not break down social hierarchies and resolve injustice, Vankevich believes that they do contribute to establishing domestic and social decencies. She believes that The Ten Commandments – the original foundations of law in Western society – are a list of manners that original guided people’s actions in society and governed people’s actions towards each other. According to Vankevich, these rules that disapprove of murder, theft, deceit and betrayal are the pathway to a better society.
While some parents might be concerned that teaching manners to children might create an overly compliant child who does not express themselves freely and does not stick up for themselves when needed, Vankevich guarantees that manners do not disable a child’s freewill and opinion to object.
“They need to know that there is a time and a place and a way to do something. We want to teach our children to be sharp and give their opinion, but it’s how they give their opinions. You can say to someone, ‘I don’t agree with what you’re saying’, but you don’t have to say, ‘I hate you.’ As long as you are not attacking a person, you can attack their ideas.”
With her contagiously, bubbly personality, Judi Vankevich, The Manners Lady, reminds the world that it is important to have good manners and also have fun. Whether it means greeting someone in their native tongue, opening the door for someone who doesn’t have a free hand, saying thank you to the girl at the cashier, reminding your family how special they are to you, having self-control or treating a classmate with a little R.E.S.P E.C.T, manners matter and character counts.