Teaching respect for all spectrums of diversity

Story of service • Toronto • August 2014

Diane Nissen with A Better Chance student.
Led by Connie Bonello as the
national program leader, IBM
volunteers in Canada have used
the global “Teaching Respect
in Schools” program, to facilitate
conversations about respect for
the individual and differences
with thousands of students
across the country.
According to Bullying Canada, one out of four youth are bullied, one out of five youth are the bully and 282,000 high school youth are attacked each month nationally. In response to those frightening statistics, Connie Bonello, along with a core team of 24 IBMers, 840 IBM volunteers, and 5 corporate partners executed the “Teaching Respect” program across Canada.

“Teaching Respect in Schools” is a global program created by IBM in partnership with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network in response to the escalating problem of bullying in schools as part of IBM’s Centennial day of service. The K-12 program focuses on the importance of respect for the individual and difference (diversity).

The Canadian team expanded the “Teaching Respect in Schools” program to include our diversity network and all the spectrums of diversity. Pilots of the program were conducted in January and February 2012 and the program was officially launched in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in May 2012. Due to the overwhelming positive feedback from students, teachers and volunteers, the fall 2012 program was expanded across the country and the Teaching Respect Team invited corporate partners to participate in the program with us.

The spring 2013 program deepened existing relationships with IBM’s corporate partners, schools boards and schools. The Teaching Respect Team continues to offer the program to students grade 1 to 5 and is conducting a pilot of a new curriculum for students grade 6 to 12.

This team has a management structure with assigned roles and responsibility, including using a Connections page for communication. Team members have utilized the following skills: Project Management, High Quality Report Writing; Public Speaking; Database Development; Training and Education; Communications.

This level of professionalism and high quality products has resulted in a high quality of presentation to the students. The experience of running the sessions has been highly impactful for both students and volunteers, who have stories of how the session touched them and how the students learned through the role modeling of IBM volunteers. The volunteers represented all of the IBM business resource groups, plus IBMers from across IBM Canada and our participating partners.

The team embodies the ideals of “Treasuring Wild Ducks” and speaks to a culture of openness. This program teaches students about respect for individuals, respect for diversity and the need to create an inclusive environment so that everyone feels safe and valued. In 2013, the Teaching Respect Team visited a total of 18 schools and 89 classrooms. They interacted with just over 2,171 students from K-5.

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