“The more you get involved, the more you can learn for later.”
The words rolled easily off of Janine Neprud’s tongue, but it was clear she had put a lot of thought into a project that she hopes can change the mindset of Duxbury’s children.
Neprud is working toward her Girl Scout Gold Award and has created a project called EDEN: Everyone Deserves Equality Now. Her goal is to work with second to fifth grade children to teach them that being different is not just alright, it’s actually good.
“Stereotypes are formed when you are very young and you hear your parents or older siblings talking around you,” Neprud said. “I want to nip it in the bud.”
Neprud has partnered with the Alden School, Duxbury High School and the Duxbury Interfaith Council to set up events at different congregations around town to help facilitate her message of acceptance and equality. The plan is to give students hands-on activities that relate to equality and acceptance and to talk to them about why being different is not a bad thing.
“We will make friendship bracelets and learn that, if it weren’t for all the different colors of the string, it would be a boring bracelet,” she said. “If it weren’t for all the different people in the world, it wouldn’t be interesting.”
Neprud said the idea for the project came from hearing students talk between classes and in the hallways, saying things she believed were inappropriate.
“Everyone is pretty ac- cepting of others’ differences at the high school, but there will always be one person that makes you stop and step back for a second and think, ‘That’s not right,’” she said.
EDEN’s first two events will take place in March, as Neprud will visit St. John the Evangelist Church to teach children during Sunday school. She plans to set up a couple of stations where children can work on projects while also learning about the gay community and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) lifestyles and racial and religious differences. She will also join parents for coffee hour on Sundays to talk with them about what she has been working on with their children and what they can do to help.
“I think it’s important to learn that acceptance is acceptance and love is love,” she said. “It’s important to realize that just because someone looks different than you or believes something different than you do, they are still human and it’s okay.”
On top of working on her gold project, Neprud has just returned from the music trip to Carnegie Hall in New York City, which she said was an “amazing” experience. She is in the wind ensemble, chamber singers, jazz ensemble and symphony orchestra at the high school and is in the throes of applying to and auditioning at colleges, including Hofstra University, Hartford University and Ithaca College for music education.
“Teaching and leading is something I really want to do and music is something I care deeply about, so it’s a good combination,” she said.
Neprud said she hopes the project will continue on after she competes her requirements for the Gold Award and will be counting on the congregations and the community to keep it going. She plans to set up a blog and a Web site dedicated to the project with helpful information on how to run activities and spread the word about acceptance and equality.
“It’s so easy to stay in the little bubble of our lives,” she said. “But being able to reach out and talk to new congregations and new kids I’ve never met before is a great way to break out of that bubble.”