ADL Austin Combats Hate at Youth Summit

ADL Austin Combats Hate at Youth Summit

By Yael Brown

On Jan. 31, Anti-Defamation League of Austin hosted its 2017-18 No Place for Hate Youth Summit at the University of Texas at Austin. More than 500 seventh and eighth-grade students and 130 teachers attended, making this year’s summit the largest ever organized in Austin.

The youth summit’s unique environment encouraged students to confront their own biases and empathize with people from very different backgrounds. Students were divided into groups of 30, with no two students per group from the same school. Each group ran through three to four activities that helped students explore issues of diversity and identity.

More than 60 volunteers facilitated the sessions, which required three hours of training in ADL’s A World of Difference curriculum.

“Our goal for the day is for students to better recognize and stand up to prejudice and hate when they see it. To do that, we spend the day exploring identity, examining bias, and looking at the ways in which hate can escalate,” said Jillian Bontke, ADL Austin education director. “We want students to leave the summit knowing how to be an ally and inspire allyship in others.”

With more than 30 percent of students reporting that they are victims of bullying, intolerance dominates as the most pervasive issue facing schools today. Teachers and students need resources and guidance to navigate both the effects and causes of bullying. ADL’s No Place For Hate resources attempt to teach children and adults how to learn from their peers and build communities of respect on their campuses.

"With our education programs you can change a child's life. When you change one life you can change many," explained Lynne Stein, ADL Austin Education Committee co-chair.

The next Youth Summit is scheduled to take place in the 2018-19 fall semester. Contact the ADL Austin office at austin@adl.org if you are interested in volunteering for this event. ■

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