WSWHE BOCES Class Wins ‘Speak Truth To Power’ Video Contest
Students to have video shown at Tribeca Film Festival
ALBANY, NY April 24, 2012 — A documentary by WSWHE BOCES students inspired by Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai will be featured Sunday during the Tribeca Film Festival.
Created by students at Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, the documentary captured the grand prize in the first-ever Speak Truth to Power Video Contest hosted by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and NYSUT.
An off-shoot of the Speak Truth To Power human rights curriculum introduced to New York schools in December 2010, the contest encouraged students statewide to make a 3-to-6 minute video that focused on a human rights defender whose work helped trigger change.
The BOCES students based their video upon the work of Maathai, an environmentalist, political activist and founder of the Green Belt Movement, who was instrumental in the planting of 30 million trees throughout Kenya as part of an effort to replenish weary soil for agriculture and to provide firewood. The winning contest video will be screened at 3 p.m. Sunday at SVA Theater, 333 W. 23rd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues. It can also be viewed online at: http://www.viddler.com/v/a53ecec5
(Note — Other contest winners and links to their videos are listed below.)
"The Speak Truth To Power video contest clearly demonstrates the transformative nature of this curriculum," said John Heffernan, director of Speak Truth To Power. "By telling stories of courageous human rights defenders through film, students are empowered to assert control and ownership over their educational experience."
Established in conjunction with NYSUT, the statewide curriculum includes 18 teacher-developed lesson plans for students in grades 6-12 based on RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy's book, Speak Truth To Power: Human Rights Defenders Who are Changing the World.
“Robert F. Kennedy’s message that we all have a responsibility to stand up and speak out against inequality and oppression is as critical today as when he first delivered it,” said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. “This video contest engages students in that lesson, and offers them the opportunity to experience, firsthand, what it means to be a defender against human rights violations. The ultimate goal is to create a new generation of human rights defenders.”
While studying Maathai, the BOCES students discovered a project she started called Mottainai, a recycling program aimed at reducing the widespread use and disposal of plastic bags in Africa, which were often ingested by animals, causing their lives to be endangered.
The BOCES students gathered more than 1,000 plastic bags, and were then taught by their teacher Ann Villet and teaching assistant Sandie Carner-Shafran how to reuse them by cutting and crocheting them into handbags. As part of the lesson, the students discovered that by recycling the bags, they kept them from ending up in landfills, where they otherwise would have taken years to degrade, releasing toxins into the air and soil.
“As educators, we have a fundamental responsibility to teach our students that a socially just world is one that affords all individuals and groups fair treatment and equal access to society’s opportunities,” said NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler, who oversees the union’s social justice program. “This video contest not only educates students about those courageous human rights defenders who have effected change, it enables them to effect change themselves.”
The following is a list of the other video contest winners and their film subjects:
Kailash Satyarthi http://www.viddler.com/v/e466ade0
Harry Wu http://www.viddler.com/v/66075bae
Alden High School
Muhammad Yunus http://www.viddler.com/v/75ebd426
Dunkirk Senior High School
Asma Jahangir http://www.viddler.com/v/d89241ac
Marian Wright Edelman http://www.viddler.com/v/1d043514
3rd Place (Tie)
Jamie Nabozny http://www.viddler.com/v/40a73282
Natasa Kandic http://www.viddler.com/v/3920942d
NYSUT, the state’s largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.
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