Tampa – A long-running program in Sarasota that encouraged the local community to embrace diversity has been nominated for an award. Embracing Our Differences is a nominee for WEDU’s 2015 Be More Enriched Award. That award acknowledges cultural organizations that contribute to the spirit of adventure, exploration and education in the regional arts scene. Other finalists include Sarasota’s Florida Studio Theatre, Tampa’s Glazer Children’s Museum and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. The winner will be announced at a luncheon on Feb. 12 in Tampa.
WEDU is West Central Florida’s leading PBS station and public media company reaching 16 counties. Embracing Our Differences is a regular participant in Sarasota Pride and has seen its programs grow significantly over the past few years.
“The mission of Embracing Our Differences is to use the transformational power of the arts to educate and inspire to create a better world,” said Sarah Wertheimer, associate executive director of EOD. “We’re deeply honored that WEDU recognizes our dedication to creating a vibrant regional community that is safe and inclusive for all.”
Since 2004, Embracing Our Differences’ international outdoor art exhibit celebrating the theme of “enriching lives through diversity,” has showcased the work of artists and writers from all walks of life, including that of many area students. In 2014, the organization received 6,079 total artworks and statements from people representing 52 countries and 44 states. Students from 126 elementary, middle and high schools comprised 65 percent of the submissions. Submissions of art and quotes by 38 local students were included in the juried exhibit.
According to Wertheimer, the high percentage of local students winning contributions can be attributed, in part, to the participation of area teachers in Embracing Our Differences’ teacher workshops.
Presented in partnership with the curriculum and instruction department of the Sarasota County school district and nationally recognized educators, these workshops provide teachers with the skills, tools and resources they need to teach their students art appreciation, character building and diversity education.
The workshops identify the relevant curriculum standards, educational objectives, instructional strategies, step-by-step lesson plans and assessment guidelines. All workshops and related resources are linked to Florida’s newly adopted Next Generation Sunshine State Standards and Language Art Florida Standards. One hundred and fifty area teachers, responsible for more than 15,000 students, are expected to participate in Embracing Our Differences educator workshops during the 2014-15 school year.
“Since 2004, 847 teachers have participated in our workshops, which represent one of the most important aspects of our efforts—to positively impact the lives of regional students,” says Wertheimer. “Not only do the children explore effective ways to tap into their creativity; they also experience new ways to learn and succeed in the world.”
Embracing Our Differences’ annual juried international art exhibit returns to Sarasota’s Island Park and Bradenton’s Riverwalk, March 29-May 31, 2015. The 2015 Call to Artists and Quotation Writers is open to amateurs, professionals and students until Jan. 5, 2015. Artists and writers can submit directly online at EmbracingOurDifferences.org.
For more information about Embracing Our Differences, call 941-404-5710.