11/07/2008

Students Across Nation to Participate in SPLC's 'Mix It Up at Lunch Day'

 

More than 4 million students across the country will challenge social and racial boundaries on Nov. 13 as part of the seventh annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day, a project designed to foster respect and understanding in schools and communities.

Sponsored by the SPLC's Teaching Tolerance program, Mix It Up encourages students to question and cross boundaries by sitting with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day. Many schools are planning activities for the whole day, and some use the event to kick off a yearlong exploration of social divisions.

"This year, Mix It Up Day has a special significance because of the historic election of Barack Obama as the first black president," said Mix It Up Director Samantha Elliott Briggs. "Students across America are very excited about doing their part to tear down the walls that divide us."

More than 8,000 schools are expected to participate in this year's program. Educators are encouraged to visit www.mixitup.org to obtain free supplies, including posters, brochures and activity booklets.

Student organizers say that Mix It Up at Lunch Day successfully encourages students to cross group lines and meet new people; helps foster school spirit and unity; raises awareness about social boundaries; helps students make new friends; and makes students feel more comfortable interacting with different kinds of people.

Richard Walsh, a 15-year-old at Chillicothe High School in Ohio, said he was looking forward to participating in Mix It Up Day as a way to build on the momentum of change created by the presidential election.

"Mix It Up is a fantastic way that the youth of today, adults of tomorrow, can begin to instill this change," Walsh said. "It allows students of every diversity and cultural background to have insight into other people's lives. This alone will tear down social boundaries that hold back our society."

The Southern Poverty Law Center started its Teaching Tolerance program in 1991 to provide educators with free resources designed to promote respect for differences and an appreciation of diversity. The Mix It Up program began in 2002.