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  • Writer's picturePASC

Building Diversity and Inclusivity in your School

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Is your school struggling with inclusivity and diversity? Consider creating your own chapter of Social Handprints Overcoming Unjust Treatment, or SHOUT. Starting a SHOUT Chapter at your school is just one of the many ways that you can openly support your student leaders and demonstrate that your school supports the claim that everyone is equal.

It is imperative to connect administration with the students interested in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the district and the community overall. This can be done through a summer outreach program, building interest through social media, or at the beginning of the year. This is just one of the many ways to garner student interest.

When it comes to the specifics of a SHOUT chapter, it is important to establish the following guidelines:

  • Handprints over footprints: There are bound to be footprints in this world. If you happen upon one, cover it with a footprint. In implementing this practice, one day, we will have more handprints than footprints, and the world will be a more positive place.

  • Oops and ouch moments: Encourage each other to reflect on mistakes by saying “oops” when you offend or hurt someone in any way. Additionally, do not be afraid to say “ouch” in moments when someone upsets you. Being vocal about your feelings is not only necessary for your well-being, but that of the entire group.

  • Call people in, not out: We all make mistakes, so when someone makes a mistake, be open-minded. Do not call them out but call them in by educating rather than chastising.

  • Windows into new perspectives: Our mission is to provide windows into different perspectives. People are more empathetic and inclusive of individuals different from them when they interact with such people.

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Ally Pact: These are the acknowledgements by which SHOUT operates, as mentioned in the diagram below.

When determining which groups in your school could most benefit from a SHOUT chapter, it is helpful to gauge demographics and major issues of community with regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Your school district/area may have an entirely different demographic and different issues to address (ie. casteism, colorism, sexism, etc). Though we all have the same goal of creating a more positive world through our handprints, we should diversify our missions to cater to the needs of our individual communities.

Based on the findings and results of your demographic analysis, establish the district’s vision for SHOUT. The easiest to method to do this is to make a written statement that surmises your chapter’s vision using the information you gained from the census taken above.

One important aspect of the SHOUT chapter you will hopefully establish is structure. It is imperative to determine committees and positions to diversify skill sets and share responsibility, such as:

  • Co-chairs: we suggest you have two leaders for your chapter whose roles consist of delegating tasks, interacting more often with advisors, and developing clear goals for the school year

  • Committee of Public Relations (lead by Secretary of Public Relations): Networking with other schools to create new SHOUT chapters, adopting different ideas from similar organizations to improve, and creating exposure for your chapter in your community to attract sponsors or media coverage for your vision

  • Committee of Celebrations (lead by Secretary of Celebrations): There is strength in numbers. This committee plays a major role in keeping all chapters of the SHOUT connected. The Alpha chapter (South Fayette) will organize and take suggestions for celebrations every month dedicated to a particular themes (ie. June is Pride month, October could be Diversity month). Those in this committee will be in charge of organizing various activities to celebrate such themes during each month

  • Committee of Treasury (lead by the Treasurer): apply for grants, organize fundraisers, and manage the budget of the chapter

  • Committee for Media (lead by Secretary of Media) : In charge of maintaining social media presence (on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc), creating posters/multimedia material to advertise the chapter

  • Historian: This role consists of recording all of your chapter’s work and achievements since its conception to preserve the progress you have encouraged in your community

Once you have solidified your SHOUT chapter, it is expected that you spread the word and recruit members using social media, posters, and by simply talking to students. You can recruit members in various ways; it could be through social media or simply asking a teacher if you can use 5 minutes of their class time to introduce the club to their students.

Like any organization, the skill and cohesive nature of the team members is what determines the success of the chapter. We suggest that you organize team building exercises while establishing the aforementioned guidelines and fostering an open environment. One easy team building strategy that PASC employs is Ice breakers!! It is a fun way to help students become more comfortable around each other and, consequently, be more open in hearing and sharing ideas.

As you know, the SHOUT program emphasizes the importance of handprints and footprints. To raise that awareness within your school, organize your own #handprintsHEALfootprints hand-printing event. This event is an awesome and effective way to put your club on the map! Firstly, it shows the entire school district who you are and the purpose of your chapter. Secondly, it is a fun way to visually explain the concept of #handprintsHealfootprints. When planning this event, it is important to network with local schools and organizations to spread the #handprintsHEALfootprints framework.

Finally, we suggest that you organize an uncommon conference and plan future events that aim to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion not only in your school but also in the district as a whole. Conferences like this will not only allow your chapter to educate and establish sturdy relationships with other schools, but it will also allow you to inform community members on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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