Human Rights Awareness Day: Take Action!
Human Rights Awareness Day: Take Action!

Contributors—Carol Bailey, Betsy Hall, and Kristen Letchworth, Middle School Teachers

In 7th Grade, students have been researching human rights violations through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which are commitments from businesses and governments to make significant changes by the year 2030 to ensure the prosperity of people and our planet. This year, the Global Studies teachers partnered with the Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership in re-imagining some components of this annual service learning project. On Human Rights Day, each class presented to their 8th Grade peers on topics including: Zero Hunger, Climate Action, No Poverty, Quality Education, Clean Water, Refugees, Gender Equality, and Fair Government. Each Google Slides Presentation concluded with the story of one Human Rights Defender and simple ways to Take Action. The next step was to write advocacy letters to leaders and organizations. On Monday, May 6, students symbolically walked with their teachers to the post office to mail their letters. (See video)

The tone of this year's event was definitely more about what we can do—students, teachers, parents/guardians—rather than simply laying out the many seemingly insurmountable issues, which often left the students feeling defeated and overwhelmed. The focus was on action, such as the letter-writing campaign commending their work and encouraging them to continue to fight the good fight. The act of walking up to the Post Office and hand mailing letters was a symbolic way to take action. One such letter was sent to Governor Charlie Baker urging him to end child marriage in Massachusetts.

See below for some of the reflections and "shout outs" written by the students...

"The UN Sustainable Goals are guidelines for countries and people around the world to follow in order to keep our world as peaceful and prosperous as possible. Some of them include: no poverty, zero hunger, quality education, gender equality, climate action, and more. The SDGs are an urgent call for action by all countries, both developed and developing, to work in global partnership. The SDGs are vital to be in low or middle income countries."
—Tyler F.

"Women and girls around the world are not treated the same as men. The people living in developing countries that lack resources, freedom, and equality are the victims of these global issues."
—Chloe S.

"The most important things to know about gender inequality is that there is a gender pay gap, women are still looked down upon, and although women here have had more opportunities than ever, everyone still needs to strive for equality. The gender pay gap is a huge issue with caucasian women earning 77 cents per every dollar that men earn. But African American women earn 63 cents per dollar with Latina women earning even less with 37 cents per dollar. When women are underestimated, men think they can take advantage of them. But women have control over our bodies and lives."
—Madison U.

Spread the Word! —by Toby K.

For those reading this who don't know, the United Nations created seventeen Sustainable Development Goals that aim for a better future by 2030. These goals collectively work together towards lessening poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation and promote prosperity, peace, and justice. Even though many of us sometimes overlook our ability to affect positive change, we all can help the world. Some simple ways to do so are to not throw out any extra food we have and give it away either to a homeless person or pantry, start recycling, use a resizable water bottle, stop using as many plastics, and turn off the lights in our homes. Each one of these simple actions helps our society and future well-being in a positive way. No matter how small of an impact we may seem to have, a small step in the right direction is extremely valuable.

Shout Out! —by Viggo Z

"Shout Out!" In Global Studies, we are learning about Climate Action and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals by gathering information, and learning about how we can affect change. Through learning, we can understand how to help save the Earth. One way you can help is by conservation. Saving water, energy, and food allows us to produce less garbage and plastic that will end up in a landfill one day. By using reusable straws, cups, bottles, silverware, and Tupperware, we can use less plastic which will get stuck in a landfill. Recycling and using less plastics and paper items will allow us to fill fewer landfills. By taking colder and shorter showers and turning the water off when you're not using it will allow us to save more energy and water. The more we save, the longer we can live on this beautiful planet we call home.

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