Outside-In Day breaks down barriers at PPMS

Published 2:30 pm Monday, October 22, 2018

PELHAM – A group of students at Pelham Park Middle School recently spent a school day learning about tolerance, stereotypes and the impact that bullying can have on others as a part of Outside-In Day.

Sponsored by Camp Fire Alabama, the goal of Outside-In Day is to give kids a better understanding of what a bullying situation looks like and how to combat it, said Outside-In Day program manager Kelly Koncsol.

“This program started as a way to combat an increase in bullying and to help break down cliques,” Koncsol said. “We’re breaking down stereotypes and prejudices and teaching kids how they can be more inclusive and make new friends.”

The day started with icebreaker games and then students divided into smaller discussion groups led by Peer Helpers from Pelham High School. The Peer Helpers received training from Camp Fire prior to day to learn how to lead the discussion groups.

From the middle school, students in the new Kindness Matters club and the PPMS Ambassadors participated in the event. About 62 students total were a part of Outside-In Day. Conversation topics started off light, but as the day progressed the topics got deeper.

Twelfth grade Peer Helper Anna Grace Hall said she takes seriously the responsibility of teaching the middle schoolers about unity.

“We do play fun games but we also do things that make the middle schoolers think about bullying and how they can play a role in putting a stop to it,” she said. “We emphasize the diversity we have here in Pelham and it’s just a really cool experience.”

Since joining Peer Helpers and getting involved with Outside-In Day, Hall said she has also made some changes in her life.

“I look at things a lot differently,” she said. “I make an effort to include people who may be feeling left out and I’ve made friends with people I normally wouldn’t have talked to because we’re in different social groups.”

PPMS eighth-grader Laura Orellana has participated in Outside-In Day for the past two years.

“It really helps you grow as a person and come out of your shell,” she said. “The mentors make you feel comfortable and they’re so kind.”