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Shrewsbury, November 17, 2016: Pastor Valeria Schmidt of Trinity Church of Northborough and Elizabeth Hylton of the Counseling and Assessment Clinic of Worcester have announced that both organizations will be joining the S.T.O.P. 2017 Program. S.T.O.P. is an anti-prejudice youth education and leadership initiative begun about 25 years ago when hate messages were discovered on a wall in a Sudbury grammar school and started in Shrewsbury in 2008. S.T.O.P. was organized to help young people understand why prejudice harms everyone, and it has thrived and grown ever since. S.T.O.P. addresses all forms of discrimination and prejudice, including prejudice based on race, gender, sexual orientation, physical appearance, class, disability, background and religion.
“The Counseling and Assessment Clinic of Worcester, LLC is proud to serve as a sponsor for the Shrewsbury S.T.O.P. program” says Elizabeth Hylton, Executive Director. “We know that being the subject of prejudice can affect self esteem and we want to make sure that our youth have the resources they need to challenge prejudice whether it is directed at them or someone else. If we give students the strategies and tools they need to combat hatred when they are young, we help them to become stronger, more resilient adults. We believe firmly that this goal is in line with our mission of healing individuals and strengthening families and we look forward to our work with the program.”
“I have always understood myself to be a peacemaker: in my personal life, in my role as pastor, and in the wider community” shared Pastor Valeria Schmidt. “The only way to peace in today’s increasingly diverse culture is through education and mutual respect. Ignorance causes fear which leads to hatred and discrimination. When I learned about the STOP program I knew right away that I wanted myself and Trinity Church to be a part of it. I see this as a powerful and fun way for adults and kids to learn with and from each other, and to send a message of unity and hope to our communities.”
The program is a seven-week curriculum, targeted to 7th and 8th grade students in the Worcester/Shrewsbury/Westborough/Northborough area. The sessions take place in participatinghouses of worship and other organizations. Through short teachings at the start of each session, students have the opportunity to learn and appreciate the similarities and differences among each other. Each session is specially designed, highly interactive, fun and is led primarily by trained high school facilitators who have graduated from the program.
Sessions will be held on Thursdays February 2, 9, 16 and March 2, 9, 16 and 23, from 6pm to 8:30pm, starting with a pizza dinner and socializing for the first half hour, so the students are able to get to know each other informally. The sessions are made up of a variety of activities including skits, videos, games and small group discussions, many led by S.T.O.P graduates. Participants do not have to belong to a religion or live in Shrewsbury.
The STOP goals are to heighten student awareness concerning issues of prejudice and discrimination of all types, give students positive and constructive strategies to confront prejudice and discrimination, develop and affirm student leadership skills and create meaningful connections among students from different backgrounds and walks of life.
For more information, contact: