Religion. Politics. Identity. Gender. Race. Those are only a few of the topics that the SHS club “The Acceptance Project” members have discussed at their meetings. They will continue to explore these topics at the 2020 county-wide summer camp, “TAP into Summer.”
The Acceptance Project founder and president Taha Vahanvaty believes that the summer camp “is giving students across the county the opportunity to create a change in their school, plus an all-expense-paid week-long trip at a local retreat center.”
The Acceptance Project (TAP), was founded as an after-school club in March of 2017 by then 8th grader Taha Vahanvaty. The project offers students the unique opportunity to engage in challenging and civil dialogue about the great social and political issues of our time.
“When I founded The Acceptance Project back in eighth grade back in 2017, I had the intention of trying to establish a dialogue between students who would normally never talk to each other,” said Vahanvaty.
Since its creation, TAP has grown to over 120 members. The club hosts bi-weekly dialogue sessions with an average of about 30 students at each meeting, with 93% of students saying that they were “more comfortable expressing their opinions after attending just one meeting.”
Spurred on by the success of The Acceptance Project at SHS, Vahanvaty’s ambition for the project grew.
“I realized that our community needed more Acceptance Projects and needed more mediators to lead them. So, with the help of local nonprofit Monroe County United (MCU), I started TAP into Summer (TAP standing for ‘The Acceptance Project’) to empower students across the county to facilitate, lead, and organize The Acceptance Project back at their own schools,” said Vahanvaty.
“TAP into Summer ” is a 5-day 4-night dialogue-intensive summer camp hosted at Kirkridge Retreat Center, located in Bangor, Pennsylvania. The summer camp provides rising 10-12 graders the opportunity to take part in constructive and civil discussions with students from across the county about issues facing the community, nation, and world.
The mission of the summer camp program is to engage students in constructive dialogue, teaching them in the process how to create, organize, facilitate, and lead The Acceptance Project back at their own high schools.
Students attending TAP into Summer will also be able to experience cultural excursions, guest speakers, group activities, and much more. Campers will take part in visiting various houses of worship and community establishments in order to gain a deeper understanding of the topics discussed. There will be guest speakers, ranging from educators to activists, who will share their experiences to help enrich the student’s dialogue experience.
As part of their experience, the Ambassadors are encouraged to confront issues rather than people. They will be taught to defend their ground while leaving room for different ways of thinking.
“Especially during this time when our society is so polarized over a number of controversial issues, it is vitally important that our youth (and all of us) create time and space for civil conversations about the issues over which we disagree,” said TAP club adviser Ms. Cynthia Crowner.
In order to attend TAP into Summer, a student must be a rising 10th, 11th, or 12th grader and must attend a school in Monroe County. Only three students will be selected from each of the eight high schools in Monroe County to attend TAP into Summer.
Through the use of a generous grant issued by the Weiler Family Foundation and the help of local non-profit MCU (Monroe County United), TAP into Summer is able to cover all costs for students.
“The best part about this summer camp is that it is 100 percent free,” said Vahanvaty. “This is an opportunity for students across the county to create change at their schools at no cost to them at all.
If a student is interested in becoming a Student Ambassador at TAP into Summer, he or she must apply starting February 5, 2020. The application closes on May 5, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., so students are strongly encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible.
“We need programs like this’ ‘ said SASD School Board Vice President Mr. Jim Burke. “We need to help people from different backgrounds and with different opinions to talk to each other.”
For those interested in applying or those who know someone please click/forward the link below: https://www.tapintosummer.com/become-an-ambassador
Click here to find out more information about TAP into Summer: https://www.tapintosummer.com/
Follow The Acceptance Project on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_acceptance_project/
Follow The Acceptance Project on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zDS-Jxj7nU