POSTED: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 4:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 4:04am
LOUISIANA — 41 Schools in Louisiana are expected to participate today in the 12th annual National Mix It Up at Lunch Day, a program sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project. More than 6,000 schools are expected to participate nationwide.
Mix It Up – held in conjunction with National Bullying Prevention Month – encourages students to sit with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day. Teaching Tolerance started the program in 2002 to foster respect and understanding among students.
“Mix It Up is a positive step that schools can take to help create learning environments where students see each other as individuals and not just as members of a separate group,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “When people step out of their cliques and get to know someone, they realize just how much they have in common.”
Cafeterias are the focus of the program because that’s where a school’s social boundaries are most obvious. Breaking down these barriers can help reduce bullying and create a school environment that is safe and welcoming for all students. Many schools are planning similar barrier-busting activities for the entire day, and some use the event to kick off yearlong explorations of social divisions.
The Southern Poverty Law Center established Teaching Tolerance in 1991 to provide educators with free resources designed to reduce prejudice, improve intergroup relations and support equitable school experiences for the nation’s children.