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NPR Report: At Pa. School, Teens Build Empathy By Confiding In A Crowd

May 23, 2014


Imagine this: a high school assembly where students share their deepest, most painful secrets — and instead of judgment from their peers, they get applause.

That's the approach Philadelphia's Freire Charter School has taken in its effort to prevent the next violent outburst or the next tragedy on campus. Instead of turning to guards or metal detectors, the school is making empathy part of its curriculum.

For the students, it starts with a simple prompt: If you really knew me, this is what you'd know. At a recent assembly, about two dozen Freire students stood before 500 peers and revealed their greatest fears, frustrations and insecurities.

Listen to the story here

Photo: Lavita, Sierra and Tyshierra are Freire Charter School students who stood up and told stories that made them vulnerable in front of their classmates. Lavita says now she feels "like anything is possible."

Kimberly Paynter/WHYY

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