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News Briefs: Anti-bias training for students; health insurance enrollment help

Participants also develop safe and practical prevention and response strategies to address prejudicial behaviors, including ways in which young people can become allies for peers who are targeted.

Students understand bias, create positive change through peer training

Pittsfield — The Berkshire County Superintendents’ Roundtable, the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires and the Anti-Defamation League are partnering to implement the ADL’s A World of Difference Institute peer training program for Berkshire County school districts.

The program, which has operated in New England since 1999, provides middle- and high-school students with anti-bias education and training to lead developmentally appropriate activities and discussions with their peers on explicit and implicit bias pertaining to race, religion, ethnicity, culture and other aspects of human diversity. Participants also develop safe and practical prevention and response strategies to address prejudicial behaviors, including ways in which young people can become allies for peers who are targeted.

The yearlong program, which also includes workshops for parents and teachers, is certified by the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. Currently operating in more than 100 middle and high schools across New England, in Berkshire County, it is being implemented in Drury High School, Herberg Middle School, Lenox Memorial Middle and High School, Monument Mountain Regional High School, Monument Valley Regional Middle School, Mount Everett Regional School, Mount Greylock Regional SchoolNessacus Regional Middle School, Pittsfield High School, Reid Middle School, Taconic High School and Wahconah Regional High School.

“Our students need to have role models for civil discourse and inclusion free of subjective judgments and prejudice,” stated Barbara Malkas, superintendent of North Adams Public Schools. “The A World of Difference curriculum supports students in becoming role models for our schools with the knowledge and skills to change the conversation and decrease incidents that inhibit the educational process.”

Reid Middle School Principal Linda Whitacre added: “The students have shown so much growth during their training sessions, and are eager to bring their skills into classrooms of their peers. Some of our immediate goals are to provide young people with the opportunity to learn about and address bias-related issues and their manifestations, as well as to foster positive peer influence to promote a more inclusive and respectful school community.”

For more information, contact William Ballen, executive secretary of the Berkshire County Superintendents’ Roundtable, at (413) 446-1196 or

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CHP assists with Mass. Health Connector open enrollment

Great Barrington — Community Health Programs is offering in-person assistance during the Massachusetts Health Connector‘s open enrollment period, which began Nov. 1, 2018, and continues through Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019.

Income-eligible people who do not have insurance through an employer must apply for private health insurance through the Health Connector program. ConnectorCare‘s plans are subsidized by both federal and state government. CHP enrollment specialists can assist income-eligible residents who are renewing their insurance and those who are applying for first-time coverage. CHP specialists are available to assist anyone, not only CHP patients. Residents whose income is very low are typically covered by MassHealth and are not subject to this open enrollment season or penalties.

Although many states in the U.S. have a mid-December deadline for enrolling or renewing insurance, Massachusetts extends the application process through Wednesday, Jan. 23. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact the Great Barrington Health Center at (413) 528-8580 or the Neighborhood Health Center in Pittsfield at (413) 447-2114.


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