February’s High Country Heroes
Q: Please explain your work toward community integration? A: In light of the Bullying Prevention Initiative taking place at Summit Middle School, students, teachers and local non-profits worked together to address issues and challenges regarding racism and bullying in the schools. The group initially focused on identifying their own biases, beliefs and behaviors related to these issues and then researched and discussed ways to overcome any prejudice they identified. Strategies and tools to distinguish and prevent racism and bullying in the future have been presented to the female seventh grade class, the school board, and the community.Q: Who participated in this project?
A: This project was the result of the collaborative efforts of Advocates for Victims of Assault, the Summit School District and, more specifically, twelve Anglo and Latina girls – eight from the middle school and four girls from the high school. The middle school girls include: Sara Cardenas, Emma Charneski, Madison Grosshuesch, Ruby Hornback, Itzayana Pastrana, Joy Rosales, Karen Saenz, and Meg Weldon. The high school girls include: Claudia Gonzalez Luna, Annalise Hafliger, Gaby Morales, and Sarah Ruckriegle.Q: Why was this project important?A: The people who participated in this project were primarily young people learning about the challenges and effects of racism and bullying. Their leadership in bringing awareness to these issues, as well as offering tools and strategies on how to combat the problems at hand, help people who are just coming to our community as well as those who have been long-time residents. After all, as one student stated, “This problem is not just going to go away – we all need to work on it.”
Q: What did you learn from participating in this project?A: Community integration affects all members of the community – including kids in school. Addressing the topic head-on and talking through the difficult aspects of it help us learn from each other and make positive changes toward increasing a sense of belonging for all Summit County residents.By simply encouraging individuals to realize their power in regard to putting an end to racism and bullying, the Summit County community can become stronger than it already is.
Q: What words of wisdom would you pass onto the community to get more people involved in Summit County’s integration efforts?A: Getting to know someone different than you is truly an opportunity to learn and grow. As another student stated, “If the community could get to know each other like we did, they might be closer to understanding one another and to realizing that it is a lot of fun to learn about different cultures.” If you have any questions, have suggestions for next month’s hero, or would like to get involved call Erin Head at (970) 262-3888 x315.
Culture countsBecoming culturally competent is a developmental process. We all have a culture to celebrate!Through the Community Integration Plan, developed through the Supporting Immigrant and Refuges Initiative by the Colorado Trust, Summit County identified over 50 activities to meet the outcome of increased integration among all community members. The plan has three major components: Education & Employment, Cultural Competency and Leadership Development. In this monthly feature, Summit County honors the outstanding efforts of heroes working toward community integration.
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