Forming productive relationships with others is an important life skill. Building a diverse community where everyone is valued is even more important, especially if you are interacting with people who have different backgrounds and interests than you.
Introducing Connections, a program from Roosevelt Alumni for Racial Equity (RARE). Connections will bring together Seattle high school students from different campuses using shared activities to create relationships with students who have had different life experiences.
Connections picks up where ethnic studies and diversity trainings end by putting those learnings into action by adding fun. Connections will assemble groups of students to have fun together by engaging in various kinds of activities – anything from sports to the arts, to learning skills and hobbies. The goal is to help high school students graduate after learning an important life skill — the ability to form relationships with people who are different from themselves — that doesn’t come from books. Doing so will serve the students for the rest of their lives. It will help them in higher education, work and volunteer activities.
The Connections program has a pledge of financial and other support from the Seattle Public Schools. It has been endorsed by Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones, RHS Principal HkwauaQuejol Hollins (“Q”), Seattle School Board VP Brandon Hersey, and many staff, parents, and community members.
Seeking Community Partners
RARE will arrange and fund activities with community partners who are experts in their fields and already have experience running youth programs. We are open to all ideas and suggestions. Some activities might involve a few evenings over a period of a month or two. Others might be a week away outside the city.
If you are involved with — or know of — an organization that has a youth program that could provide a Connections activity, please complete the form below. We will get back to you to discuss how to best proceed.
Why did you start the Connections program?
The segregation of Seattle public schools has hardly changed over the past 50 years. This ongoing and seemingly intractable situation leads to fear, misunderstanding, and discrimination in all facets of life. It detracts from the quality of our children’s education and leaves them underprepared for college and careers. We believe that one part of the solution is to encourage young people from different races and ethnicities to participate together in fun and interesting activities, where interaction is encouraged, and lifelong friendships might be started.
Will you involve students in planning the Connections program?
Absolutely yes. For starters, some of the NAACP Youth Council Seattle-King County members have agreed to talk to us about their possible involvement. We are also forming an advisory committee of RHS students, which might be combined with the NAACP group if they decide to participate. We will also work to engage students from other schools.
When do you intend to start Connections?
We are looking for a partner to start our first pilot in the spring of 2022.
How will you engage partners for the activities?
We intend to reach out to every youth program in King County, and probably beyond. We are also counting on word of mouth, articles in the local press, and the networks of well-connected Seattle school alumni. We will be in touch with other non-profits, school districts, PTAs, student groups, and business groups. Do you know of a youth program we should be talking to? Please contact us here.
Why do you use the word “movement” in the title of this page?
Nearly everyone we talk to is positive about the idea of Connections. They see it as a simple concept that begins to address the question of “what can we do” about problems of racial equity. There are countless fun and interesting activities that can potentially be adapted to fit the program. On that basis, we hope to start the ball rolling and launch a movement that expands throughout Seattle and beyond.
What evidence do you have that the Connections program will make a difference?
RARE itself is an example of what we’re talking about. It was started by alumni who had formed connections through sports teams 50 years earlier. Those connections were long dormant, but still strong enough to provide a foundation for an organization that has already had significant accomplishments and has in turn led to many more connections.
Will teachers be involved?
We hope so. But we also understand that teachers are maxed out all day, every day. They do not need yet another to-do dropped on them. To get the Connections program off the ground, we are not counting on teacher involvement. As the program grows and shows some success, we hope that teachers will begin to fold the Connections activities into their planning. Ideally, some activities can become co-curricular — learning opportunities that earn credit.
The Connections program, under development by Roosevelt Alumni for Racial Equity, will provide great opportunities for students of different backgrounds and cultures to share meaningful and fun extracurricular experiences. Shared experiences of this kind can create life-long learning and friendships. — Principal HkwauaQueJol (“Q”) Hollins of Roosevelt High School