Schools bring justice alive in a global letter-writing event
Photo Credit: Amnesty International
(NC)— Take a look at the enthusiasm of teachers and students who have participated in the Write for Rights event—the annual, global, letter-writing marathon organized by the human rights organization Amnesty International:
“Write for Rights was the great culminating event at our school's International Justice Week.”
“Our lunch-time letter writing session involved many classes, received newspaper coverage, and sparked a lot of interest across the school. This is our second year and it certainly won't be our last.”
Write for Rights takes place on International Human Rights Day, December 10. That's the day in 1948 when United Nations members proclaimed that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the law for all governments and people everywhere.
Thousands of students in hundreds of Canadian schools, including ESL (English as a second language) classes and other learning programs, participate in the letter-writing event every year. Many more thousands join in from additional countries across six continents.
Hosting a Write for Rights event at a school is easy, says Amnesty. Participants register their event online at writeathon.ca or call toll-free at 1-800-266-3789. Everyone can participate, and there are no fees or membership.
Once registered, participants receive a free activity kit with great classroom activity ideas, planning tips, letter-writing advice, and publicity materials.
There are youth-oriented case stories describing specific human rights violations, along with the names of people to write to and advice about what to say. Letter writers will sometimes urge governments to stop specific human rights violations, and sometimes they will send messages of support directly to people who are courageously defending their human rights.
This year December 10 (Human Rights Day) falls on a Tuesday, but you can hold your event at the time that works best for you.
Write for Right strengthens writing skills by creating an exciting, shared context for writing, and by enabling young people to use writing to express their personal, caring and engaged voice in the world. The event is easy to integrate into the curriculum and school life. Students at one high school in Calgary used their French classes to write letters to French-speaking countries, accompanying them with a homemade Christmas card for a prisoner of conscience, written in French.
The activity encourages student initiative and creativity too. Students in Halifax, for example, organized a film event for which admission was one signed letter. It also inspires awareness, hope and action, says Amnesty. As one teacher says: “We held a lunchtime petition action called 'It's In Our Hands', where students and teachers left their handprints and signatures on a large banner. It's now on display in the school's main hallway.” Another teacher described an equally successful school-wide event, and ends with a point made by many Write for Rights organizers: “We certainly plan to take part again next year.”
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