The World As It Could Be Human Rights Education Program (TWAICB) In Collaboration With Arroyo High School’s Future Leaders Of Social Change Small Learning Community
February-March 2022 Project
INTRODUCTION – HOW THE PROJECT DEVELOPED
TWAICB has collaborated with Kay Zimmerman, the Arroyo High School Future Academy Co-Lead Teacher since 2011, when she took part in our 3-day Institute to learn about TWAICB curriculum. Since that time, Ms. Zimmerman has utilized the curriculum with junior students in her Developmental Psychology for Adolescents (DPC) class, where, as part of that class, the students learn about the UDHR and then present a Town Hall to their learning community about what they want others to know about the UDHR and its relevance to current issues.
In 2021 the junior DPC students learned about the UDHR, though were doing so through virtual classes due to the COVID pandemic. And, even amid these challenges, they created their culminating Town Hall presentation called The America I Know, which was shown via Zoom to their Arroyo High School Future Leaders of Social Change Academy community and extended friends, including those from TWAICB.
In March 2021, Sandy Sohcot began discussions with Sarah Crowell, who has been part of TWAICB program since its inception, to explore the possibility of bringing new light to TWAICB curriculum, with the following elements:
- Bring attention to the connection of human rights and social justice, whereby how knowing about the UDHR and human rights standards can inspire engagement in social justice efforts to bring about positive change;
- Provide video documentation to demonstrate implementation of TWAICB curriculum activities so that a broader audience could learn about the curriculum via online access.
These discussions led to proposing the project From Anger to Action where we would spend time with Ms. Zimmerman’s incoming Senior DPC class to build on their knowledge of the UDHR to both consider the connection of human rights and social justice and identify a community action project they could work on to turn their “anger” about human rights issues in their own environments into positive “action.”
After several months of planning with Kay Zimmerman and Sarah Crowell, on February 15th, Sandy Sohcot began meeting with the Senior students of the DPC class (Development Psychology for Adolescents). On March 18th, the students performed their culminating presentation before an audience of teachers, administrators, school board members and local officials.
OVERALL PROJECT OBJECTIVES:
- Provide Arroyo students already familiar with the UDHR the following opportunities:
- Gain a deeper understanding of the connection of human rights education and social justice advocacy through robust dialogue and creative arts experiences facilitated by Arroyo teacher Kay Zimmerman, Sarah Crowell, Sandy Sohcot and other creative arts professionals involved with TWAICB;
- Create presentations with creative arts elements that help teach the Arroyo community and beyond about the connection of human rights education and social justice advocacy;
- Using the UDHR as a guiding framework, develop and implement a Community Action Project that addresses an agreed-upon community issue;
- Gain experience in how to create bridges and build positive relationships among community members, including their peers, teachers and school administrators;
- Experience how they can make a positive difference in their immediate and extended communities.
TWAICB PROJECT OBJECTIVES:
- Bring to life the existing TWAICB classroom and after-school rite-of-passage curricula with video documentation easily accessible in a virtual environment;
- Help convey how knowledge of the UDHR can strengthen and amplify social justice endeavors;
- Help convey what Human Rights Education is about;
- Continue to demonstrate the importance of the creative arts in deepening both learning of complex concepts and inspiring others about the importance of these concepts;
- Continue to provide youth the opportunity to experience leadership and have the vital role of teaching others.
THE PROJECT UNFOLDS ON FEBRUARY 15, 2022 – DEVELOPING A COMMUNITY ACTION PROJECT:
Over the course of 3 weeks, beginning on February 15th, Sandy Sohcot met with the 31 DPC students and Ms. Zimmerman. The objective of these sessions was to help guide the students to first identify which UDHR Articles resonated most to the issues they were concerned about for themselves and their immediate community, and to then develop strategies to address these issues. We began by developing community agreements as to how we would interact with each other to spur learning and community cohesion.
Each session began with warm up exercises from TWAICB curriculum to encourage healthy movement and stretching, to help connect the students to each other with fun, yet meaningful theater games, and to gain increased focus about the topics to be discussed. Here is the outline that guided each of the sessions over the 3-week period.
After each student identified the 3 UDHR Articles that resonated most with them, the class, through discussion and voting, identified the 3 primary Articles they wanted to focus, where the students, based on their strong interests, broke into three groups, one for each Article:
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Everyone has the right life, liberty and security of person.
1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well- being of himself and of their family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond their control.
2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
Each of the student groups worked on their own mural for their Article of focus to illustrate the issues they cared about.
Coming out of their mural work and guide questions, the students then identified the primary issue of their given article that they wanted to focus on, as follows:
- Article 2: Stereotypes which perpetuate harmful ideas resulting in discrimination
- Article 3: Safety is important (No ICE, gun violence or police brutality)
- Article 5: Healthcare
The following worksheets show what the students worked on:
- Action Planning Worksheets
- Page 1 shows the Summary of Articles to focus on, along with identifying the change(s) they want to see, problems related to the issue, and possible ways to approach the problems;
- Pages 2–4 shows the Questions Related to the Issues Identified for Each Article of Focus
- Action Plan and Strategies By UDHR Article
- 2-Page Worksheet to Develop Action Plans for Each Article of Focus
MARCH 7 – MARCH 18, 2022 – CONNECTING HUMAN RIGHTS TO SOCIAL JUSTICE
Sarah Crowell, with Naia Young, a former Destiny Arts Center participant and current dancer/musician, began meeting with the DPC students, along with Sandy Sohcot and Kay Zimmerman. Using TWAICB curriculum activities, Sarah and Naia guided the students to develop sculpted dramatizations of the issues they identified for Articles 2, 3 and 25, spoken words in response to writing prompts such as, “If I could tell the world about human rights…” and, “As a future leader for social change, my commitment to using what I know about human rights and social justice, will be…”, as well as dance and movement to help convey other concepts related to human rights and social justice. Sarah and Naia helped the students then create their culminating presentation to bring together all they had worked on and grasped over the 5 weeks.
The activities carried out each day were documented by videographer Desmond Jerome Sinclair O’shea.
On March 18th, the students delivered their culminating presentation “From Anger to Action” as shown here, followed by an interactive discussion with the audience.
On March 25th, Naia, Sarah, Sandy and Desmon returned for a final session with the students to debrief on their experience and to present them with the Certificate of Completion.
In May the students presented a Town Hall to their learning community to provide their perspectives on the connection of human rights and social justice. On June 8th they graduated.
FOR GRADUATION ON JUNE 8, 2022
Greetings to you as you get ready to graduate on Wednesday.
I’m writing on behalf of Sarah, Naia and Desmond. We were so happy to receive an invitation to your graduation. Though we cannot be there in person, with this we want you to know we’re thinking of you.
I remember how impressed I was last year when you were Juniors, to see your presentation of “The America I Know,” that you were able to put together even from your remote locations. Then, this February-March, we had the opportunity to connect with you for our “From Anger to Action” initiative, and see your thoughtfulness and creativity come to life, so beautifully conveyed in your brilliant and moving culminating presentation.
We have seen you demonstrate the resiliency, as well as the care about yourself and others that will take you far. Enjoy your graduation ceremony and celebrations. We wish you continued learning, joy and meaningfulness as you enter this next phase of your lives.
As Naia said upon getting the invitation to your graduation, “We love you, we’re very proud of you, and we’ll be hooting and hollering with you in spirit!”
Sandy Sohcot with greetings from Sarah Crowell, Naia Young and Desmond O’Shea