ANAHEIM, Calif. – Improving campus climate is the focus of all Orange County high schools. At Western High School in Anaheim an organization is improving that climate through student-led presentations and activities that increase awareness.
Every culture has unique traditions. Isabel Delgado is a senior at Western High School in Anaheim and this is Folklorico rehearsal, part of a club she helped create dedicated to spread diversity through the traditional Mexican dance.
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“It is one of the cultures here on campus. It’s not the only one. There’s Vietnamese, there’s Filipino, there’s all these different ones. And we’re able to see all the different backgrounds and get together no matter who we are,” Delgado says.
Western is one of the more diverse high school campuses in Orange County and Delgado is trying to both promote and protect that. She is involved in just about every club on campus from ASB to Folklorico, but her impact is felt most through the BRIDGES program created by OC Human Relations. It is an inter-group program that helps promote safer campuses through student-led activities like this one where students breakdown stereotypes created around themselves.
“We do make sure it’s a safe, inclusive safe zone where they’re able to share their stories. A lot of people have shared their own stories where they get personal, they share their experiences of how they’ve been stereotyped or how they’ve been misjudged. And they get very personal which is something good because it helps us connect more with them,” Delgado says.
In 2018, Orange County experienced an 11-percent rise in hate crimes and a 75-percent rise in hate activity from the previous year. While hate crimes are down slightly over the last 10 years, there has been an increase with over 100 incidents.
According to OC Human Relations, in schools 71 percent of students report bullying incidents as their problem making this activity all the more relevant sticking names on students’ backs and breaking down their negative connotations.
“It makes them more aware of what they’re saying, it makes them be able to interact more, ask more questions about anything, and feel more comfortable here on campus as well,” Delgado says.
As Delgado gets ready to go to college, she hopes to further inspire understanding and acceptance.
“When you help someone, they’re going to be able to help someone else. And it just passes it forward which is a big thing because eventually we’re going to all help each other and it’s going to lead right back to you as well,” says Delgado.
Trying to make the future a safer place for everyone.