Far too many students in our schools have to confront bias, discrimination, and prejudice on a daily basis. Often, students are targets of racism, homophobia, ageism, sexism, and other hurtful manifestations of hate. The consequences can be devastating on individuals, schools, and communities. Bias in its many forms threatens the safety of school environments. Tacit acceptance of the lower levels of bias and prejudice allows the higher levels to develop, including violence.
CMI is highly committed to helping schools become accepting communities that value and appreciate diversity. CMI has helped many schools develop and strengthen peer programs designed to promote diversity appreciation and combat bias, prejudice, and bullying. CMI diversity training programs focus on developing self-awareness in students, often leading to the realization that bias and prejudice really hurts. We help students learn to identify biased attitudes (their own and others) and explore strategies for dealing effectively with prejudice. Our goal is to help students become leaders in their schools, empowering them to create a more accepting, equitable environment.
In this model, CMI trains a select group of student leaders and adult advisors who are interested in diversity awareness. This team of student leaders and adult advisors receive in-depth diversity and leadership training from CMI trainers and will serve as the core diversity awareness team in the school. Typically, the initial training of the core team occurs over the course of a multiple-day retreat. During this retreat, the training focuses on:
- Fostering a sense of community within the group
- Building communication and emotional intelligence skills
- Developing empathy and self-awareness
- Increasing individual diversity awareness
The diversity training program is based on a carefully designed sequence of experiential learning activities. The initial activities help students meet each other and feel more comfortable together. In addition, CMI facilitators help the students design their own group norms to create a safe and supportive group culture. As the training progresses, the students:
- Learn about communication skills such as active listening by participating in “game-like” initiatives
- Cultivate trust and team problem-solving skills
- Learn a problem-solving model that encourages brainstorming and cooperation and then apply this model to several group challenges