Inclusion Center for Community and Justice
Two people with equal qualifications send resumes to an open job position. The resumes show equal collegiate academic standings, and identical work experience. One of the resumes has the name Jamaal Williams, the other Rich Winter.
The Jamaal Williams resume gets tossed on the bottom of the pile and the Rich Winter resume gets pulled to the side for further consideration.
If the above scenario has you speechless, then imagine how the Jamall Williams' of the world feel every day.
The Inclusion Center aims to eliminate those, and other kinds of battles, and bring light to the dark areas of discrimination.
"We are a human relations organization dedicated to eliminating prejudice, bigotry and discrimination," Director, Saundra Stokes said. "The Inclusion Center develops inclusive solutions to promote respect for all people through conflict resolution, education, advocacy and empowerment."
Each summer, the Inclusion Center, gathers youth from the state of Utah for their 'Anytown Retreat'. The youth come from many different socio-economic backgrounds, representing a wide array of ethnicities and diverse cultural backgrounds.
For six days, the youth are housed together and taught self-awareness, education, conflict resolution and communication skills that help them resolve prejudice and bigotry in their own communities.
"Delegates that come to Anytown gain not only a deeper sense of self, but of their own cultural identity," Hande Togrul, Adult Program Director said. "The workshops and programming are geared towards those in attendance gaining an understanding of others, but also gives participants the needed tools to speak their mind respectfully and peacefully in their communities, schools, and situations of conflict."
Many of the young people that attend the summits, come back as peer mentors, and many, like Executive Director, Saundra Stokes are so moved by the experience, they continue to volunteer at and for the Inclusion Center.
Stokes has been with the program since 1996, when she first attended a Global Leaders Program in 1996 while she was a sophomore at West high school. Following her first retreat, she began volunteering for the group until her first day of employment in 2003.
"The experience of our retreat's are such powerful and imitate real-life scenarios that it's hard not to want to be part of something so life changing," Stokes said. "Seeing the changes in outward perception of others, just from spending six days together, is truly a life-altering experience."
In addition to the Anytown Summit, the Inclusion Center provides several other opportunities for community members to feel the power of change.
Inclusion Summit - Is a 5-day retreat for adults and professional
Global Leaders and Global Friends - This retreat is for high school and junior high students respectively. This summit is run in coordination and support with local schools.
But the Inclusion Center is much more than three retreats per year.
"During the school year we are regularly invited to speak and illustrate our programs to junior-high and high school students throughout the state," Torgul said. "Although the speaking engagements are shorter in duration than the retreat's, we are able to effectively demonstrate how we look past prejudice, racism and bigotry in our everyday lives."
Of course, changing perceptions and teaching youth and adults the real dangers of bigotry, bullying, racism and bringing a voice to these subjects that aren't always talked about in the way they should be doesn't come easy, or cheap.
The Inclusion Center will be hosting a fund-raising golf tournament on Thursday, Sep. 25.
"The Inclusion Open, formerly Drive Out Racism, is our annual fund-raising event and we're really excited that so many people have responded to what we think is a very important cause," Javier Alegre, Director of Development said. "The event is really a celebration of what we do all year and the impact we have on changing lives and perceptions of others, one person at a time."
The fundraiser itself celebrates Utah's growing diversity and fosters a friendly competition between golfers. All proceeds will go toward youth programs that help a younger generation become humanitarians, dialogue in constructive manners and expand perspectives of themselves and those around them.
For more information on the Inclusion Open or any of the programs offered by the Inclusion Center, please call or visit our website at www.inclusioncenter.org.