Countywide : Cultural Awareness Program Planned

A new program aimed at educating elementary school students about ethnic differences is looking for 50 parent volunteers.

Co-sponsored by the Orange County Human Relations Commission and the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the "Green Circle" program will train parents to teach informal classes on tolerance.

"The training will prepare parents to facilitate educational sessions geared toward creating cultural awareness at a very young age," said Marci Gollis, executive director of the Orange County chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Parents will assist in two so-called Green Circle sessions, which run for four hours at a local elementary school.

Gollis said that the program entails drawing a green circle, with some children in the circle and others outside of it.

"We want kids to understand what it feels like to be someplace else other than the mainstream," Gollis said.

Though similar programs exist in Los Angeles County, it is the first time that it will be offered in Orange County, said Tina Fernandez.

"Kids really need to learn to be sensitive. They are not color-blind. It's not enough to celebrate Martin Luther King Day and Cinco de Mayo," she said.

The sessions will be Jan. 13, 21 and Feb. 3 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Human Relations office in Santa Ana. Interested parents may call (714) 567-7470. The deadline for registration is Jan. 7.

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