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UW-Eau Claire Peer Diversity Educators
to Present Family Folk Fair at Sherman School

RELEASED: Jan. 31, 2005

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Peer Diversity Educators will present a Family Folk Fair from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, in the gymnasium of Sherman Elementary School. The event, which will give families the opportunity to explore different cultures as well as think about their own, is co-sponsored by the Sherman Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization.

According to senior Sally Trnka, Duluth, one of the co-coordinators of PDE, the fair will feature nine different stations focusing on topics such as the tsunami and the peoples affected by it, sign language, crafts from Mexico, story telling, and family heritage and traditions.

"We are seeking to educate the children as well as their families in a hands-on way to help personalize issues surrounding diversity and social justice," said Trnka.

The program is part of a plan developed by Trnka and others from the PDE group to take age-appropriate diversity education into the Eau Claire School District. The plan is being funded by a Campus Compact grant designed to encourage citizen/scholarship among college students.

Jodi Thesing-Ritter, associate dean of student development at UW-Eau Claire, said PDE has partnered with a number of schools to conduct similar programs.

"Sherman Elementary has an after school diversity club that meets once a month to learn about issues of diversity," said Thesing-Ritter. "My daughters are participating in this program and love it!"

Thesing-Ritter, who chairs a subcommittee of the planning committee that coordinates campus-community connections, said PDE also has participated in Diversity Day at Northstar Middle School and conducted classroom programs at a number of other schools.

"I am so excited about this project for so many reasons," Thesing-Ritter said. "It provides an opportunity for UW-Eau Claire students to be actively engaged in our community and hopefully prepares them for life-long engagement in their future communities; it allows younger students to have college-aged role models in their schools; and it brings this very important issue of respecting difference into our schools."

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NW

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