IRMO, SC (WIS) - When you ask a Dutch Fork Middle student what the phrase "Hate won't win" means to them, you'll get a number of responses. All of them, mature beyond their years.
"It means a group of people who are different and they go together, and they don't judge each other about their culture or about what they look like, they just love each other and they have great friendships," said one student.
"Just because someone is different and they can't do something as good as you doesn't mean they don't deserve a part," said another.
"You can't get your way by bullying," another added. "It's just not right to bully. You just won't win."
"'Hate won't win' really means...hope."
Six groups of seventh and eighth-graders at Dutch Fork Middle School's Hate Won't Win group were tasked with creating skits about promoting tolerance, fighting racism and confronting bullying. Teachers tell WIS that the purpose is to equip students with a voice, and show them how to act so that they can be advocates in their school and in their community.
"As a teacher you keep thinking, I don't want my kids to be victims. I want them to realize that they can be safe and they can be in a world where they can make a difference," said Lori Wenzinger, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at DFMS.
Wenzinger has been on the front lines of the student project and she says it has grown in ways she never would've imagined including their collaboration with the Columbia Fireflies.
A number of team members performed skits with the students, and the winning group was chosen and featured at the team's Tuesday night game.
"It's definitely a big stage when it comes to development and maturity and stuff," said Fireflies player Dash Winningham. "A lot of things go down in middle school and, if we can get right with these kids as far as doing the right things, then they'll be successful in life,"
The kids hope to spread their message through the entire community. Recently, the Columbia Ballet and the Richland County Sheriff's Department signed on to keep the movement going into next year.
For now, these kids are leaving for summer break with quite the takeaway message.
"Love is a strong thing and if you keep on feeling love, then you can spread it on, and if you keep on spreading it on, then this world could be a better place."
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