Youth-led summit invites change

Author: Liza Frenette
Source:  NYSUT Communications
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Students wanting to learn how they can have an impact on the world through changes in their thoughts and actions have designed a virtual global summit to be held Saturday, Dec. 11 to honor World Human Rights Day.

Becoming a critical thinker happens with time, seasoning and education. It is vital for learners – both students and adults – to be aware of how they are getting their information.

Ryan Rish, SUNY University of Buffalo, will help students at the summit examine media literacy.

“Media literacy can help us with human rights by seeing past stereotypical depictions,” said Rish, a member of United University Professions, the union representing academic and professional staff at the State University of New York. “The representation of global issues is very important; understanding how they’re represented is important. We need to understand human rights issues on their terms – not filtered through the government or an organization with an agenda.”

mehr and rish

Rish is one of two keynote speakers at “Rise Up: Fighting for Women Internationally,” which will also feature Pakistani human rights leader Ghina Mehr addressing women’s human security and gender issues. Registration for the summit is free. Breakout groups will discuss social activism, domestic violence, reproductive rights, maternity leave and children, infanticide of girl babies, sexual harassment, women and war.

“We’re really hoping our brother and sister teachers in NYSUT can share this information with a young person they feel would be appropriate for the summit,” said Drew Beiter, director and co-founder of the Academy for Human Rights and member of the Springville Faculty Association.

The summit is sponsored by the Academy with organizers Beiter and Melody LeBeau and by the Capital Region Institute for Human Rights, which was founded by Thea MacFawn, administrative dean and former teacher, and Kelly Wetherbee, North Colonie TA. Students planning the summit have attended one of the teen human rights institutes held by each organization.

“This is the power of education – when you have students planning an event for other students, inspiring young people,” said Beiter.

How to Register

Parents can learn more about the summit and register their students online at

Tuition is free.


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