Every Wednesday, several dozen Middle School students file into the classroom of Special Education teacher Ben Liberatore to make the world a better place. The MS Diversity Inclusion for Youth Club (DIY) is a new after-school club designed to facilitate thoughtful discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion and explore meaningful ways to implement those ideals. Mr. Liberatore hosts animated discussions and group exercises to help define and shape diversity and inclusion into achievable, actionable steps. Feeling different, not fitting in, and being excluded were some of the reasons students cited for joining the club.
“I want to break down the social constructs,” “I wish we didn’t have social norms,” and “Let people be themselves without judgment” were a few of the sentiments expressed by club members.
Last month, Mr. Liberatore and the DIY club members listed some societal influences that can positively or negatively impact the club’s mission. He strategized with DIYers about how to recognize behaviors like labeling, “-isms,” and “othering” that serve as a means to alienate people, and explored ways of handling those situations in the moment.
We are so grateful that our students work hard for change!