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Mix-it-Up at Lunch takes students out of comfort zone

SPRINGFIELD -- Students around the country embraced differences at school Tuesday.
SPRINGFIELD -- Students around the country embraced differences at school Tuesday. It was Mix-it-Up at Lunch Day for more than 6,000 schools nationwide. It was a chance for kids to interact with others they wouldn't ordinarily meet. WCIA-3's Alex Davis finds out how it worked.

Social boundaries were crossed and some misconceptions faded during Mix-it-Up at Lunch Day.

"We're finding things in common with other people and we're just kind of putting ourselves out there."

Springfield's Lincoln Magnet School is one of nearly 300 in the state which took part in the movement Tuesday.

"We really have to practice the tools of communicating. Communicating in effective, right ways and really looking at each others' feelings."

That's what the Teaching Tolerance Project is going for. The campaign calls on students to swap their lunch room seats and sit with others outside their usual social circle.

"You might find stuff that you have in common and you might have a lot of stuff in common and you could make friends with them."

The Southern Poverty Law Center says school cafeterias are the places where divisions are most clearly drawn for young people.

"We want our students to learn how to communicate with one another and use each other as resources as they're learning. We do that really well academically, but we want to make sure the social-emotional component is present as well."

Teaching Tolerance says breaking down barriers and social boundaries can help reduce bullying in schools by calling on students to practice understanding and not judgment.

"You shouldn't be putting them down if you don't know anything about them."

Fifteen other middle schools in Central Illinois took part as well.
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