Beyond Differences – Ending Social Isolation!

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By Annie Adams, Math Teacher

Beyond Differences has been forming its teen board here at Hall.  The campaign this year that is being launched across the nation is “I’m IN!” as a way to ask for student commitment to ending social isolation.  Our goal at Hall is to get students to show a variety of ways, through personal goals and creating activities for our school that help people commit to ending social isolation.

Right now we are meeting to help put together our updated version of No One Eats Alone, which has been how we classically launch the club at Hall and invite students to come meet new people during lunch.  We are planning a picnic type event to encourage a relaxed attitude, large and small group games, physical activities, and basically just play.   The students will divvy up responsibilities and are the driving force for planning and implementing activities at Hall.  As Beyond Differences advisors, we serve as mentors, share some curriculum regarding leadership, and share opportunities that the students may have at school and within our community to find out more about the effects of social isolation and the positive impact they can each have to end it.

Where we are going – in the past, Beyond Differences has met after school and had some curriculum led by community members from the Beyond Differences program.  This year, we are trying to have more of an at school presence.  We will be planning activities for the whole school to participate in.  Some ideas have been a movie night, or a move week during lunch time to create low pressure hang out opportunities.  Other ideas have been a carnival.  We are still brainstorming and are going to be working with the other Beyond Differences clubs in Marin to gather ideas and share what’s happening in our community.

Here are what some of our students shared about the recent Beyond Differences overnight retreat experience with students from around Marin County:

“The retreat was to teach us about leadership and what Beyond Differences was about. It was packed full of games and activities that bonded LATP closer together. Everyone was very open with each other and it felt like I had known the group for years.”
“The retreat was great! We learned about what we were going to do this year, and how to work as a team. I wonder what fun things we will do in Beyond Differences this year???!!!!”
“It was an incredible experience to hear everyone’s story and to meet so many new people who have gone through so much! It was extremely eye-opening, and it was unforgettable. We did lots of games, trust exercises, and brainstormed a lot on how to make our school/the world a bullying-free zone. I am so glad that I went, and I hope that everyone gets a chance as well!”
“The retreat in my opinion was really fun. I did meet quite a few people from other schools, and people really got to open up about what was happening (or happened) in their life, for example how they got bullied or their background. It was really surprising to hear some of the kids’ stories that you knew, and you had no idea about. It was really inspirational, and overall a great experience.”
“We got to learn a lot about what we were going to do. It was a great experience for all of us.”
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