| Program: || Students Together Omitting Prejudice (STOP), Sudbury, MA |
| Contact(s): || Mrs. Sheila Goldberg, Coordinator: (978) 443-9622 |
| Purpose: || To help students identify and eliminate prejudice, discrimination and racism |
In January of 1991, three religious congregations in Sudbury, Massachusetts started the Students Together Omitting Prejudice Program (STOP) to eliminate discrimination, prejudice and stereotypes among area junior high school youth. The congregations, one Jewish, one Roman Catholic and one United Methodist, developed STOP in response to an anti-Semitic incident at a local public school. This incident, a swastika scrawled on a bathroom wall, followed a number of anti-Semitic and racially hostile incidents in the Boston area during preceding months. The goals of the program are to eliminate discrimination, prejudice and stereotypes. STOP also seeks to make students aware of how stereotypes are originated and perpetuated, and what tools and resources are needed to confront prejudice and discrimination. STOP also teaches the students about other religions.
STOP consists of six three-hour meetings that rotate between the different congregations. At each of the first three sessions, youth from the host congregation introduce the visiting students to the essential elements of their faith. This is done to help the youth understand each other and to begin breaking down stereotypes about one another's religious beliefs. Activities are planned to help the youth express their own uniqueness, articulate their own cultural traditions and to relate their own experiences of racism. The first session focuses on discussion related to the effects of racism. During the next three sessions, the participating youth work on activities that help them understand, identify and confront stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination. The latter sessions involve role-playing and developing strategy. The students learn to confront prejudice and to speak up for themselves and for others. Youth who have completed the program are invited to work as facilitators.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
Since its inception in 1991, the STOP program has taught more than 200 youth, approximately 25 each year. The program has been highlighted as a model on several Catholic television shows. Anecdotal surveys of student participants show that the youth carry the lessons learned through STOP into their everyday lives. This ensures that they will continue teaching the lessons of STOP to others by their example.