News Details

Gloucester County To Begin New Tools for Tolerance Program to Promote Cultural Awareness In Schools

(Woodbury) - Gloucester County Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney, Freeholder Frank J. DiMarco, Liaison to Department of Correctional Services, and Prosecutor Sean Dalton announced today that a new cultural diversity awareness program would begin in several schools this September.

Eighth and ninth graders in Washington Township Schools and eighth graders in Nauhansey Middle School and Clearview Middle School will be the first to participate in the new Tools for Tolerance program this coming school year. The Gloucester County Tools for Tolerance program's objective is to provide diversity-enriched events over the course of a school semester to promote cultural awareness.

"This is going to be a fantastic proactive experience for our youth," said Freeholder Director Sweeney. "Our young citizens will learn diversity, tolerance and awareness through many experiences. Assemblies, interaction, spoken word, speakers and other interesting educational tools will be used to learn about other cultures," said Sweeney.

Director Sweeney said, "The culmination of this semester-long program will end with a visit by the students to the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia . The Museum celebrates our nation's heritage of freedom and the wonderful diverse society it has produced."

"This program grew as a result of a team of members from the County Department of Correctional Services, Prosecutors Office and County Administration attending the Tools for Tolerance, National Institutes Against Hate Crimes and Terrorism at the Museum of Tolerance earlier in the year. While at the national school, our team created their mission statement to focus on youth, and have organized their committee to implement the Tools for Tolerance program in our schools," said Freeholder Frank DiMarco, liaison to the Department of Corrections.

"Our Gloucester County team returned from this nationally acclaimed program prepared to share and implement strategic approaches to promote diversity and cultural awareness within our young citizens," Freeholder DiMarco said.

"Part of the responsibility of attending the National Tools for Tolerance conference was to come back and implement your new skills in your community," said DiMarco.

The Gloucester County Tools for Tolerance Committee is comprised of staff from several departments and a municipal police officer, who included:

Jacqueline Caban, Assistant Prosecutor

Barbara Carter, Victim Witness Coordinator with the Gloucester County

Deb Cama, Sergeant, Gloucester County Department of Corrections

LaRae Carter, Correction Officers, GCDOC

Ezette McCann, Social Worker at GCDOC Juvenile Detention

Anthony Wilcox, Deputy Director of Personnel for Gloucester County of Gloucester

Lieutenant Franklin Brown of Glassboro Police Department

The Gloucester County Tools for Tolerance Committee will work closely with the Director of Education and staff at the National Liberty Museum , who is partnering in this program.

"Diversity is the strength of our communities. This program will help young individuals embrace those differences," said Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton.

The Prosecutor's Office has directed $5,000 in state grant funding for this program. An additional $5,000 will also be targeted toward creating a Tools For Tolerance program for adjudicated youth; this program is still being created.

"We are very enthusiastic about this new program," said Freeholder Director Sweeney. "The Committee has been working very hard to put it together and the children are going to gain a lot of knowledge and experience from it. There is always more we can learn about cultures and Tools for Tolerance will provide new information that our children will hold for their lifetimes," Sweeney said.

The conference that our Team attended was held at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles . The museum is a branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center , an internationally renowned human rights organization dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. The museum promotes tolerance through community involvement, educational outreach and social action.

The Museum of Tolerance is supported by a federal grant through the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, which funded the Gloucester County Team to attend the program.

The Tools for Tolerance program uses a variety of adult learning modalities including interactive technology, video presentations, special speakers and small group discussions. The program is inclusive and presents an educational experience that engages participants on many levels.

Some issues the program focuses on are discrimination, prejudice, racism, diversity and stereotyping. The goals of the program are to strengthen ethical and bias-free decision making, enhance competency in inter-cultural communication and conflict resolution,
develop progressive leadership practices and build capacity for inclusive and equitable organizations.