| Program: || Team Harmony, Boston, MA |
| Contact(s): || Beth White, Event Coordinator: (617) 536-6033 |
| Purpose: || To promote understanding and respect for differences among young people through participation in interracial projects |
Several years ago, Reggie Lewis, a former Boston Celtics Captain, and former Celtics Assistant Coach Jon Jennings joined forces to create Team Harmony, a series of events that would help young people, regardless of their backgrounds, learn to respect each other's differences. Partly a response to the 1992 riots in Los Angeles and partly a response to a rise in violence in schools, Lewis and Jennings wanted to help young people end the prejudice, hatred, anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry that they felt were at the core of much of the violence. After Lewis's tragic death in 1993 at age 27, Jennings joined forces with Leonard Zakim of the Anti-Defamation League's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute to continue the effort he and Lewis had started. (More information about A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute can be found later in this section.)
Based on the philosophy of having a team effort to overcome bigotry in communities, the first Team Harmony event brought together Boston's four professional sports teams, 6,000 middle and high school students, and teachers from 300 schools. Together, they took a stand against hatred and bigotry. Since that first event in 1994, all Team Harmony events have combined entertainment, education, and inspiration with the belief that young people must be given a chance to make a difference. The 1995 event included more than 10,000 participants, and participation continues to expand. This year, the event will be held on December 9, 1997. Many of the youth and teachers in Team Harmony participate in the Anti-Defamation League's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute. The Institute sponsors regional conferences to prepare students and teachers to participate in A World of Difference Week, a program that encourages the implementation of anti-bias programs and events that celebrate diversity. Students and teachers are encouraged to organize committees and plan events that unite a broad range of people in the community around the issues of civil rights, combating discrimination, and promoting intergroup harmony.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
Through Team Harmony and the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute, there is now a network of thousands of middle and high school students and their teachers working to end prejudice and discrimination in over 600 Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire schools.