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Episode Info: Laura Talmus is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Beyond Differences. Beyond Differences was founded after the unexpected death of her daughter, Lili, in October 2009. Since then, Beyond Differences has blossomed into an organization that helps empower youth and helps them connect with their community (and school) on a deeper level. Middle school is a tough experience for everybody, but as Laura discusses on the show, it doesn’t have to be.    Key Takeaways: [4:55] Everybody remembers their experience in middle school and how isolating it felt.  [10:45] Children between the ages of 11 and 14  begin to develop independence and they look to their peers, instead of their parents, for guidance.  [12:55] This project was sparked after Laura’s young daughter passed away in her sleep.  [18:55] At the time, Laura was not trying to start a movement. She was just trying to honor her daughter.  [24:30] What does Beyond Differences do, and how does it help middle schoolers?  [32:50] Beyond Differences is about learning about other classmates’ traditions, faith, and family values.  [33:25] Beyond Differences’ next event will be focusing on social isolation online.  [40:20] Everybody knows what it’s like to be treated differently. Young Muslim-Americans are being bullied in school, and programs like Beyond Differences help children understand that we’re all human in the end.  [46:10] Is there a program like this for companies and adults, not just for young teens?  [50:30] Laura has been able to grow this organization so fast. What kind of leadership lessons has she learned?    Mentioned in This Episode: Giving Back Podcast Beyond Differences  Read more »

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