GALION — There was a sense of belonging at Galion Middle School on Thursday afternoon. The entire district took part in the national No One Eats Alone campaign. A campaign that teaches students how to make friends and create a culture of belonging.
Millions of students in more than 2,500 schools in all 50 states participate in No One Eats Alone Day each year. This is the second year that Galion has joined the initiative.
“This is our second year doing it, so our seventh and eighth graders already know a little bit about it,” school counselor Gabrielle Carsey explained. “They know the important of our culture here at Galion Middle. We want everyone to feel like they have a home and they belong.”
During Thursday’s lunch students were asked to wear purple, the color that represents the campaign. The cafeteria was decorated and good music played for the students to enjoy. The staff also put together a drawing for the students. Each lunch table had a paper that had conversation starters for the students.
The biggest reason the district supports this program is to halt social isolation. Carsey was able to speak to each classroom about it.
“I went into every class room; sixth, seventh and eighth. We taught the kids what social isolation is and why it is important to end it.”
Many students struggle with a place to sit, especially to begin the school year. Whether a student is shy, or they just may not have many friends to sit with at lunch.
“I have kids who will come to me and say, ‘I have no where to sit in the lunchroom’’ A lot of times they will tell me there are not enough tables, which is not the case,” Carsey explained.
“I just ask them if I can help them find a place to sit. Once I help them make that first connection, they are totally fine. I always tell the kids even if you don’t end up best friends, it is okay.”
Many students elect to sit with their normal peers this day, but are rewarded if they can go outside of their comfort zone.
“A lot of the kids are terrified to sit somewhere different. Any table that invites someone, they are given a reward,” said Carsey.
It makes it easy that majority of the students are welcoming in making new friends, helping out their peers.
“Our kids are so good about wanting everybody to feel like they belong. I think everyone has felt that once in their life.”
No One Eats Alone is a Positive Prevention Initiative that is there to create a culture of belonging where all students feel accepted, respected and valued. The curriculum is aligned with Common Core ELA standards and CASEL competencies.
Students had an extra pep in their step and smiles were common on Thursday. Listening closely, you could hear the kids mentioning some of the conversation starter questions. At the end of the day that’s the goal and mission of this initiative.