As we learned from our youth: Where There’s A Will There’s A Way!

December 2021

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Earlier this month – December 7-8 – marked the 15th anniversary of the presentations of our first youth-created production The World As It Could Be – A Declaration of Human Rights, the catalyst for developing The World As It Could Be Human Rights Education Program (TWAICB).

To further celebrate this milestone, we are pleased to report that we just submitted, by invitation, and in collaboration with Rosemary Blanchard, our co-author, the first draft of the Chapter titled The Human Rights Portal to Teaching Mindfulness and Civic Engagement as part of the textbook Mindful Social Studies: Cultivating Social and Emotional Development for 21st Century Citizenship, to be produced by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction of the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.  While the Chapter must still be approved for inclusion in the textbook, we are proud to have TWAICB the primary subject of the Chapter, and hopeful this will be the first of more such publications.

I have long admired the work of my colleague Rosemary Blanchard, as we have both been actively involved on the Steering Committee of HRE USA since its start in 2011.  In 2014, I interviewed Rosemary to gain her insights on why teaching about the UDHR and human rights was so important.  And, now, Rosemary has included the following statements in the Chapter introduction that both convey the value of Human Rights Education and the benefits of utilizing the TWAICB Program curricula:

Human Rights are in some ways a code of ethics for the Human Family. Human rights educators and mindfulness educators share the challenge of helping students know and respect themselves while respecting and engaging productively and compassionately with others. From that respect of self and other arises an approach to civic engagement which is active, even assertive, yet not reactive or revengeful.

This chapter describes one program that uses social emotional learning strategies to guide students through a series of human rights grounded inquiries and exercises, helping them build self-awareness and a commitment to equity and justice for all. The program, THE WORLD AS IT COULD BE (TWAICB) is a student-centered, inquiry-fueled celebration of the many concrete ways students can stand up for themselves, their peers, their families and their communities. TWAICB employs a human rights framework both to analyze problems and to engage in community-healing solutions.

In 2007, while I was Executive Director of the Rex Foundation, we published the Newsletter The Will to Change, to examine how to muster the political will to achieve positive social change.  This, along with our 2nd original youth production Where There’s A Will There’s A Way, were inspired by reading a Buckminster Fuller statement he had made in 1983:

The newsletter featured interviews with people committed to exerting the will to making a difference in their spheres.  The participating youth in Where There’s A Will There’s A Way examined how even minute/small actions could help bring the words of the UDHR to reality for all.

I continue to be inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s words, even more because of what I have learned from the adults and youth involved in TWAICB, who continue to commit to helping manifest the UDHR principles.

As we now get ready for 2022, we at TWAICB extend our best wishes to you and yours for a year filled with peace, hope and care for one another – our human family.  Let’s consider heeding this inspiring notion of Howard Karamazov of the Flying Karamazov Brothers:

With appreciation and best regards,
Sandy Sohcot, Director