Alyssa and I spent the last two Tuesdays at Arsenal Middle School in Lawrenceville working with 6-8th graders. Although a rowdy group, they have big hearts and are trying to survive in often unfairly rough situations. We spent a lot of time working on empathy, team-building, and unity.
Students spent the first week much like the other schools, learning about mental illnesses, stigma, and each other. The second week, we really focused on finding the unity to STAND TOGETHER and work as a team against stigma through empathy. Some students had never heard this word before and we discussed how it differs from sympathy. Empathy leads to understanding and we all want to be heard.
Students had some very tough discussions about hot topics and shared some of their experiences. By doing so, they learned they are more alike than they are different and we all want the same things: acceptance, respect…and money! (That was the most popular of the three things they wished for!)
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