Project Overview

Junior High Students Raise Awareness for the Need for Acceptance

Acceptance of a Great Challenge

Unfortunately, intolerance is shaping the world we live in. Every day, at every level and every age, people face intolerance because they are different in some way. Students are made to feel that they are unimportant because they look different or have different beliefs. People are mocked, excluded, and physically hurt because of religion, sexual orientation, race, and a variety of other "differences." The results of this behavior can range from hurt feelings to avoiding school to school violence to entire nations ripped apart by genocide.
In the fall of 2012, Danville’s eighth grade took on a tough project; they are aiming to get 1.5 million postcards. Intolerance is a major issue in schools across America, as well as the world. To change this, their reading and social studies teachers (Cassandra Macans and Kelly Henry) teamed up with the local Anne Frank Museum, with the help of Janet Hesler, to raise awareness of this issue. They were inspired by other projects, such as Paperclips (a very similar project from Tennessee that experienced great success), Inside Hannah’s Suitcase (a project in Japan that started with a suitcase and ending with a great museum exhibit), and The Freedom Writers (a young teacher worked to increase acceptance in her classroom through journals, among many other things).
The Holocaust was chosen as the backbone for this project because that is an example of what can happen when people allow intolerance to shape their actions; it also demonstrates the importance of bystanders. To start the project, the eighth graders looked far into history to follow the persecution of Jewish people, using traditional historical accounts, as well as folktales and other stories. Then, they read The Diary of Anne Frank and visited the Anne Frank Museum upon it’s completion. This is when their project was explained to them.
They were challenged with the goal of collecting 1.5 million postcards; this would obviously be a multiyear project. Postcards were chosen because Anne Frank collected them. The goal of 1.5 million is to honor the 1.5 million children murdered during the Holocaust. They have been writing postcards explaining their project to Jewish schools all across the country. So far, they have received over two thousand postcards! Some schools were generous enough to send entire packets of postcards! People have also been generous enough to go through personal collections of postcards to donate them to help this group reach their goal. Some of the most interesting postcards have been the ones from China; they even wrote their messages in both English and Chinese! This project has also been covered in multiple newspapers, such as the Des Moines County News, The Hawkeye, and The Cedar Rapids Gazette. They’ve even been covered on a local news channel! This media help has allowed them the publicity to work towards their goal.
These eighth graders didn’t stop with the persecution of Jewish people. They have also looked at the treatment of the Japanese during WWII, the past and current treatment of Muslims, and treatment of those with disabilities. They have had guest speakers explaining the hurt that intolerance causes. 
Though this group is a long way from their goal; these kids have met part of their goal. They feel that they are treating each other better than they did before this project was started. They, and the community, has come together due to this project.
The eighth graders will be passing this project on to the next group of eighth graders. They have two requests to make of you. First, move past tolerance. To tolerate someone is not good enough. If you are merely tolerating someone, you are still implying that something about them is “not good enough.” It is time to accept people for who they are. Instead of rejecting differences, such as religion or race, accept those people for who they are. 
Their second request is much simpler. Send them a postcard. Help them reach their goal. Please address the postcard to:
Danville Postcard Project
419 South Main
Danville, IA 52623

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