2009-04-28 Holland Sentinel Kids take a stroll through Archie Bunker’s neighborhood at diversity event


Kids take a stroll through Archie Bunker’s neighborhood at diversity event
BY STEPHEN KLOOSTERMAN
Holland Sentinel


Ottawa County, MI —


Building a community takes more than bricks and mortar.

That’s what kids from area middle schools learned Tuesday at the Calling All Colors conference sponsored by the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance.

Kids participated in discussions and games at the conference at Grand Valley State University Tuesday.


Student groups from Cityside Middle School, Creekside Middle School, Holland Christian North Shore Middle School, Holland Christian South Shore Middle School, Vanderbilt Charter Academy and West Ottawa middle schools participated in the event.

One game, called “Archie Bunker’s Neighborhood,” had students trying to build a model neighborhood. The game was intended to teach that barriers separating races don’t lead to good communities.

The kids were randomly assigned to different ethnic groups, which had different parts of the neighborhood to develop. Before the kids could erect tiny buildings built out of note cards and masking tape, they had to secure building permits from volunteers, who role played as racist and corrupt government officials.

Kids assigned to minority races also got a smaller space to build on.

“It’ll be a little better if we had a little more room,” said Mitchell Suarez, an eighth-grader at Holland’s West Middle School who was assigned to the neighborhood’s Asian-American ghetto.

“The people in the white communities instantly recognized the amount of the power they had,” said volunteer Tedd Parsons.

“We got very good deals on our buildings, and got moved to the front of the line,” said Daniel Ballesteros, an eighth-grader at Vanderbilt Charter Academy who had been assigned to the white group.

The exercise concluded with a discussion about what had taken place, and how students could have built a better neighborhood.

High school and middle school groups from Calling All Colors meet twice a year. At spring meetings, students share various activities they’ve done to promote diversity awareness at their schools.
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