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Students Mix It Up at lunch with Teaching Tolerance event

Students will step outside their cliques and get to know someone new today as part of the 15th National Mix It Up at Lunch Day – an annual school event sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project.

During Mix It Up at Lunch Day, students at schools across the country are asked to sit with someone new in the cafeteria. Since its inception in 2002, educators across the country have used the event to help foster welcoming school environments for all students.

Credit: Katja Heinemann

“Mix It Up at Lunch Day can be an eye-opening event for students as they realize just how much they have in common with their classmates and how wonderful their differences can be,” said Monita Bell, Teaching Tolerance’s Mix It Up coordinator. “We want students to remember these experiences and recognize how cliques and labels don’t tell you everything about a person.”

Mix It Up at Lunch Day also offers important lessons on inclusiveness and respect for classmates with different backgrounds and perspectives.

“By breaking out of their comfort zones to get to know someone new, students are much more able to see each other as individuals and not just members of separate groups,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “These positive interactions among students can help reduce prejudice, stereotypes and bullying.”

Credit: Katja Heinemann

Cafeterias are the focus of the program because that’s where a school’s social boundaries are most obvious. But many schools plan similar activities outside the lunchroom. Each school sets its own agenda, makes its own plans and chooses its own theme. Although today is the official launch date, some schools use Mix it Up at Lunch Day to kick off yearlong explorations of social divisions.

Today’s school events can be followed at the Mix It Up at Lunch Day Facebook page, and on Twitter with #MixLunch.