Richmond middle schoolers gain awareness of diversity and respect

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In one classroom inside VCU's Harris Hall, you'll find a group of 12 students, from 12 different schools, and 12 different backgrounds.

The students are just a few of the 200 middle schoolers getting to know each other at this year's Prejudice Awareness Summit- a move 12-year-old Selam Herring believes is important.

"You have certain friends and certain people that you always hear from everyday, and there are a lot of different people here, and I think it's important to know what other people think," said Herring.

This is part of what the program "Break the Cycle: Be the Change" is all about getting students to talk to each other about bullying, prejudice, and stereotypes, then coming up with plans to bring about change.

"It's really important for students to take on leadership. We think about positive peer pressure as being an important aspect of this work. When students can be upstanders for one another rather than bystanders," said Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities president Jonathan Zur.

14-year-old Neil Baxter of Fredericksburg Academy wants to be that type of leader.

"I want to learn how to treat people better and not judge people," said Baxter.

He, like the other students, wants to be the change and not just talk about it.

This is the 13th year for the Prejudice Awareness Summit.

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