Mix it Up helps youth and adults learn about others

Mix it Up Day at schools give students a chance to learn about others.

We all have both differences and similarities to other people in so many ways.  While some experiences may be similar among some, the way they perceive those experiences depends greatly on their personality, previous experiences, culture from which they came and other factors, according to Michigan State University Extension.  Our innate characteristics and personality are influenced by diverse experiences and different cultural and familial environments.

It’s often easy to be tolerant and accepting of differences with some people, and yet harder to show that same tolerance with others.  We may form opinions of people based on very little information or preconceived ideas of their character.  Intolerance of others’ behavior or character can lead to needless misunderstandings, hostility or bullying behavior.  Children learn to behave in certain ways and form opinions of other people based on their family experiences and how they learn to feel about themselves.

Mix it Up is a school-based project to give young people an opportunity to get outside their comfort zone and get to know others whom they might not otherwise try to know.  The goal of the project is to get students to learn more about others who are different or hang out with different groups.  On October 29th, Mix it Up Day, students are encouraged to sit with others who they do not know well or have never shown an interest in being acquainted with before.  They might sit with others at lunch time, their school events or just have a conversation with others.  On the Teaching Tolerance website there are conversation starter ideas, ideas for ways that students can prepare for and how to promote Mix it Up Day at their school.  Schools can even register on that site to have a Mix it Up Day.

Outside of the school on Mix it Up Day, we can all try to keep mixing our groups so that we are not always associating with the people we know or forgetting to include people who are unfamiliar or different.  When you plan meetings or gatherings, think of ways to encourage everyone to spend time with others they don’t know well.  Give people conversation starters or fun activities to help build friendships.

Teaching by example, we are encouraging our youth to be open to more communication with their peers and not just their chosen friends.  We can create so many positive outcomes in youth by helping to reduce the likelihood and frequency of bullying behavior for both those who bully and those who are targets of bullying.  Even students who do not experience bullying first-hand can suffer negative emotional consequences when they witness repeated bullying.  You can read about other ways to help children form friendships and help families improve relationships on the MSU Extension website.

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