Diversity 101

West G Learns How to Diversify Views and Opinions

One+Line...One+Mind...For+the+Diverse+Kind

One Line…One Mind…For the Diverse Kind

The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio has been making some trips to West Geauga recently. As a representative of the program youLEAD, Ms. Shannon Shaver has been the facilitator of its diversity training program. She first met with the 11th grade and 12 grade student Freshman Mentors on Friday, February 17th and discussed how to recognize diversity in the community, the aspects that make people diverse, and different scenarios of discrimination. This is the second time this organization has worked with West Geauga, but it is not new to the area. The Diversity Center was founded in 1927 in Cleveland in order to address and raise awareness of diversity issues. In 2006 the center rebranded and localized in Northeast Ohio. It is also part of a bigger group, National Federation of Just Communities, and continues to shape areas into supportive communities.

The goal of the program is to create inclusive spaces and allies through training. It teaches many skills like leadership, critical thinking, and how to be patient with not knowing a “correct” answer right away. Shannon was in charge of conveying the organization’s main topics when analyzing diversity: race, gender, disability, micro-aggression, and socioeconomic status. She lead the discussion with the the freshman mentors during their   all – day training to teach them how to handle these topics when they met with the freshman students the following week.

Another representative from the Diversity Center is here right now, meeting with the freshmen on the 23rd and 24th in half – day installments. During these times, they talked with the 9th graders and trained them by holding focus groups, similar to the ones from the mentor’s coaching. The mentors were present to help with the exercise and pass on the awareness to others.  Everyone was working towards the same goal by being very respectful of each other’s opinions and embracing new and different perspectives.

Overall Shannon feels that, “People like what we do, but we always get some pushback because people don’t like talking about these issues.” The topics the training covers can be uncomfortable for some communities. Talking about these issues is the first step towards fixing them and the main focus of the program is to provide the positive atmosphere necessary to allow people to talk openly. She enjoys this job because she is able to work with kids and provide them with discussion and insight they normally would not engage in.

The Mentors seem to understand the purpose and importance of this training and will do a wonderful job addressing further issues. They have become leaders of positive change in the school and community and the 9th graders have been able to grow with them from the program.

The Center hopes to introduce more programs and have the students be involved in other ways. They invite students and the community to their other other activities in hopes of continuing their awareness of diversity issues. For more information on the Center and their events and programs visit http://www.diversitycenterneo.org/