By Susan Cort, Derry Township Supervisor
We all have a role in making each other feel safe and valued in our community and that starts with understanding each other’s boundaries at home, school and in the workplace. This was the topic of the November Hershey Area All Things Diversity session as Joyce Lukima, chief operating officer of The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) interacted with approximately 100 event attendees.
“Respect, safety and equality are all parts of the puzzle that make us feel safe and affirmed,” said Lukima. She suggested that preventing any kind of harassment, even if it’s unintentional, can ultimately help reduce instances of sexual abuse.
Lukima asked the crowd how they show respect to people and how they look for respect in return. Audience members shared the importance eye contact, engagement, name recognition and understanding a person’s space or boundaries.
We know about the Golden Rule but Lukima offered that we all need to follow the Platinum Rule of treating people the way they want to be treated.
She reminded attendees that what is funny or conceivably innocent to one person can be highly offensive to another. “Your actions and comments are about the impact and not the intent,” Lukima said.
Lukima shared some scenarios and asked the audience to hold up red or green cards to note if the scenario was OK or not OK. There were mixed answers which even further supported the point that what is appropriate for some is not for others.
The speaker said it’s sometimes difficult to know what someone’s boundaries are so the best way to find out is to simply ask.
To foster a safe, welcoming community, we all need to work to promote equality and respect. Audience members suggested that a welcome can start with simple acts such as a smile and kind word.
Ms. Lukima is experienced in individual and group counseling as well as the supervision of counselors. She has worked to support survivors and prevent sexual harassment, assault and abuse for more than 30 years.
Starting with the January 15, 2020 session, Hershey Area All Things Diversity is changing locations to the Hershey Middle School to accommodate the growing attendance.
That session will feature Dee Stalnecker, who will be presenting “Poverty in the Hershey Community.”Ms. Stalnecker will examine poverty and available resources in the Hershey community. The event is free and a light supper is provided. Registration is required to reserve your spot.
Hershey Area All Things Diversity is led by representatives from Derry Township, Derry Township School District, Downtown Hershey Association, The Hershey Story Museum, The Hershey Company, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and Penn State Health. For more information, follow them on Facebook.