11/05/2007

Students at 10,000 Schools Set to Challenge Social Boundaries During Sixth Annual 'Mix It Up at Lunch Day'

 

More than 4 million students across the country will step into their school cafeterias and out of their cliques on Nov. 13 as part of the sixth annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day, a project designed to foster respect and understanding in schools and communities.

The project, sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program, encourages students to question and cross social boundaries in their school by sitting with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day.

"Nowhere on school campuses are social boundaries more obvious than the cafeteria," said Mix It Up Director Samantha Elliott Briggs. "But it's also the ideal place for students to tear down these walls and get to know people they might not otherwise meet."

Schools often use the day to kick off a yearlong exploration of social boundaries.

"Mix It Up is a starting point for better understanding and unity among students," Briggs said. "Research has shown that Mix It Up has even more powerful results when it's treated as more than a one-day event."

More than 10,000 schools across the country are expected to participate in this year's program. Educators are encouraged to visit www.mixitup.org to download free supplies, including posters and activity booklets.

After last year's event, organizers again overwhelmingly reported that Mix It Up at Lunch Day successfully encouraged students to cross group lines and meet new people; helped foster school spirit and unity; raised awareness about social boundaries; helped students make new friends; and made students feel more comfortable interacting with different kinds of people.

"It can change students' outlook on people who are different from them," Raven Taylor, a student in Louisville, Ky., said in a Mix It Up essay she wrote in the 8th grade. "Everyone should try to make a difference and mix it up. Change the people around you, literally."

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.