The need for attention to social justice issues has amplified in the past year, and educators are charging ahead with change by again providing two major summer teen institutes for human rights.
With support from NYSUT, the Capital Region Teen Symposium on Human Rights “Be the Change” program will be running virtually from June 28-30. The Academy for Human Rights Summer Symposium, based in Buffalo, will be running virtually from July 11-16 with the theme “Our Stories Will Change the World.”
Both institutes are the creation of New York educators: Kelley Wetherbee, North Colonie TA, and former teacher Thea MacFawn, in the Capital Region; and Drew Beiter, Springville Faculty Association, in Western New York. Many other educators volunteer to help run the program.
Last year, the programs drew record numbers of high school students from eight different countries to hear from international and nationally recognized advocates. Topics included youth activism, environmental justice, fighting food insecurity, racial justice, LGBQT+ rights, providing water, understanding refugee situations, the Holocaust, genocide, domestic violence and women’s rights.
Students will learn about existing organizations taking on these issues through legislation, activism and outreach. They will have the opportunity to create art under the guidance of guest poets and artists and take part in a slam poetry workshop.
New and returning speakers at the Capital Region symposium will share information on organizations such as Free Food Fridge, Total Equity Now, Clean and Healthy New York, and Human Rights Advocacy.
Capital Region Teen Symposium on Human Rights can be found at capitalregionhumanrights.org. Tuition is $75; scholarships are available.
The Buffalo Summer Symposium will feature speakers from Help4Refugees, and Project SAFE, authors, activists, and teachers as well as family members of Holocaust survivors. Tuition is $100, with a July 5 deadline. Scholarships are available. The Academy for Human Rights, which sponsors the symposium, academyforhumanrights.org, also has professional development programs for teachers.