There are few moments as powerful as watching a young person put everything they’ve got into making the world a better place.
As a teacher, I’ve spent my whole career pursuing those moments, trying to empower students to use what they learn in the classroom to make an impact in their community.
Graham Lowes, Educator-in-Residence at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
In 2017, when I got the opportunity to join the team at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as the first Educator-in-Residence, I jumped at it. It was a chance to impact many more students by building on the outstanding educational programs already offered at the Museum, while also helping teachers create those incredible moments of impact back in their own classrooms.
These past 18 months have been quite a journey. But earlier in April, a lot of hard work paid off as students from seven different schools came to the Museum for the culmination of a project we called The 180: Turning From Injustice to Justice. It started a few months ago, when students visited the Museum to learn about human rights, and hear the stories of human rights champions like Nelson Mandela and Viola Desmond. Then, we asked them to learn about a local or global human rights violation and take action to help end the injustice.
Omar, a teenage refugee from Syria, raised funds to support other refugees and shared the importance of free speech. 13-year-old Kaia wrote, performed and recorded a song of support for friends who face racism. Eric, a Grade 12 activist, organized a “Strut for Shoal” fashion show, fundraiser and march in support of clean water for Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. Then, these students and many others came to the Museum to explain the impact of their projects to visitors in our galleries.
It was incredible to see how these students had grown, and how they’d made an impact. You know the feeling where a young person just blows you away with their intelligence, compassion and energy? That feeling was running throughout the whole Museum that day.
To top it all off, we asked them to go one step further and present their projects to a live audience here at the Museum in 180 seconds or less. It was a daunting task, but an important learning moment for them.
And, wow, did they deliver.
I was so impressed. When we gave them an opportunity to be leaders, they took it, and by sharing their projects they inspired others to take action too.
They became human rights champions.
Here’s what two students had to say after participating in The 180:
“There is so much more to an issue than just what you see in the headlines. You need to take action. If you are interested in something you need to dig deeper. You can’t sit on the sidelines.” – Bradyn Slater and Alon Mejnov
“You can’t sit on the sidelines.” That’s why the educational programs at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights are so important. We’re helping students transform from bystanders into upstanders – because when the young leaders of tomorrow believe that human rights matter, and they are empowered to take action, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish.
We depend on your help to keep projects like The 180 happening. With your support, we can continue inspiring students to take action for human rights and make our world a better place for everyone. Click here to make your contribution through our secure online portal, or call us at 1-866-828-9209.
And as always, if you have any questions about how you can be involved in creating inspiring moments for students at the Museum, reach out to us today at 1-866-828-9209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights