Reynoldsburg's first Multicultural CommUNITY Day is not only designed to bring the community together for fun and fellowship, but to honor and talk about diversity.
"Reynoldsburg has become an amazingly diverse community," said teacher Melisa Ray, the district's English as a Second Language coordinator. "We feel it is time to have discussions around our differences, learn to honor the diversity and unite our community."
The day begins at 8 a.m. Aug. 4 at the Reynoldsburg High School Summit Road campus, 8579 Summit Road, with registration for a 1-mile walk or fun run. Registration will be open from 8 to 8:45 a.m. and the race begins at 9 a.m.
Online advance registration is available for the fun run at https://tinyurl.com/ybcnungw.
The cost is $10 per adult, $5 for youths for early registration. Online registration ends at midnight Aug. 3.
On race day, the cost is $15 for adults, $5 for youths and is cash only.
Ray said awards will be given to first-, second- and third-place finishers, according to age categories.
After the fun run, an indoor program will begin at 10 a.m., featuring the video, "Let's Talk Diversity and Inclusion."
Ray said there will be a panel discussion and a question-and-answer session about diversity after the video.
"The questions will be around positive contributions and challenges that diverse families experience," she said.
Panel members include Laura Berger, director of development from Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services and Bhuwan Pyakurel, Bhutanese Napali community member.
Ray said she also expects a representative from the Commission of Hispanic/Latino Affairs to participate.
At 11:30 a.m. Aug. 4, an outdoor multicultural celebration will include free food and entertainment. Representatives from local organizations will be there as resources for families.
Agencies participating include the Ohio Hispanic Coalition, Columbus C.A.R.E. Coalition, Asian American Community Services, Central Ohio Rescue & Restore Coalition, the Columbus Depart,emt of Neighborhoods, the Reynoldsburg Youth Human Trafficking Coalition, Refugee Women in Action, Primary One Health and the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
Ray said a small group of community members and school employees began meeting last fall to discuss the need to "begin the conversation around diversity and inclusion."
She hopes to make the event an annual one in Reynoldsburg.
"My deepest desire is that each individual person will walk away with one idea on how to reach out to others who we would not normally have inside our personal circle," she said. "We need to reach out to others and learn more about them."
High school ESL teacher Cheryl Crooks is co-chairperson of the event.
"My hope is that we can recognize the diversity and that it can be a day of sharing in our community," she said. "The diversity is there, so we hope to promote acceptance for everyone."
She said students in her classes accept each other's differences.
"Our schoolchildren are very accepting of each other in general, but we can always do better," she said. "As our world changes and more and more people from all over move into our community, we need to embrace people, no matter who they are."
Crooks said the committee talked to students about what they want to see each year at the event.
"We wanted to start small, but the students had some wonderful ideas for succeeding years, such as a fashion show and talent show," she said. "I think this could be a wonderful event for Reynoldsburg."
She said the free food will include a mix of meat and vegetarian sandwiches, chips and water.
"We hope people will come out for all the activities, but it would be fine if they just wanted to come out for a free lunch and a fun time with other families," Crooks said.