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Mix It Up brings activism to schools

Third annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day encourages respect in U.S. schools.

Oct. 4, 2004 -- This November 16, students across the country will sit with someone new for the Center's third annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day.

Changing seats may seem like a simple act, but "mixing it up" has the potential to change lives. As students break out of their comfort zones and meet people of different races, styles, backgrounds, religions, and social groups, they learn lasting lessons of tolerance and acceptance.

These values are especially important today, when more than 50% of students admit their schools are quick to put people into categories based on style, athletic achievement, and appearance.

Last year, more than 2.5 million students in nearly 7,000 schools participated in Mix It Up at Lunch Day. Many students had positive things to say about the event.

"It opened my eyes because these were people who wouldn't approach me before, and I couldn't have approached them. Now I look at it as these are people who know my name and know my story," said a high school student from New Jersey.

"[Mix It Up] helped a lot of students to realize that it's not just all about the outside, but truly the inside that counts," said a Tennessee high school student.

Mix It Up at Lunch Day is only the beginning of a yearlong program that also includes dialogue groups to foster communication among students and a grants program to fund youth activism projects.

To date, more than 120 student tolerance projects have been funded by Mix It Up grants. Among them:

  • South Carolina student activists belonging to STOP (Students Together Overcoming Prejudice) organized a Unity Day celebration, complete with diversity workshops and a pep rally.
  • Outreach: Humanity, a youth-directed group in Kansas City, Ks., hosted four coffeehouse events on campus, focused on such issues as racial identity, interracial dating, cultural appreciation, and the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.

With the generous help of Center supporters, Teaching Tolerance will continue to touch the lives of millions of young people with this innovative program.