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Know Your Neighbor Event Creates Inclusion

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--Tonight marks the 18th year of the Johnson Elementary School end of the year barbecue. This year though, there's a twist.

The school is joining hands with the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association and other groups for a first of its kind community event.

Wellington heights, the name alone usually comes with a negative connotation.

"One of our biggest obstacles is the perception of the neighborhood, said Justin Wasson, President of the Neighborhood Association.

That's exactly what the Know Your Neighbor community event is working to change, showing that this is indeed a great place to live.

"We want to take what you hear in the news and what people perceive as being negative and really show them the beauty that is Wellington Heights, said Dorice Ramsey, Executive Director of Jane Boyd Community House.

So Friday evening, the First Congregational United Church of Christ and Johnson Elementary morphs into playgrounds for inclusivity.

"We're trying to find common interests, common goals and we're trying to bring those people together and make the neighborhood a better place to live, said Wasson.

"When you know your neighbors, you take care of your community. You become a connected community, so that's how all of this started, said Ramsey.

It's an event that has taken five months of planning and more than 40 organizations to become a reality.

Agencies like four oaks and even the Cedar Rapids Police Department teamed up to build stronger networks here.

"We hope people get to meet each other. See who's living next to them, see who's living down the street maybe find some common interests, find some common goals, said Wasson.

"Wellington Heights has a terrific spirit again of inclusion and diversity and we want to celebrate that, Ramsey said.
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