STTP Announces 2012 Human Rights Video Contest Winner
(2012-03-26) Students from Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) celebrated on Thursday as John Heffernan, Director of the RFK Center Speak Truth To Power program, announced that they and their video project were headed to New York City next month for the Tribeca Film Festival. One of the students described the opportunity as “a dream come true,” while another decided to come back to school instead of dropping out because of his dedication to the project.
The students were named the grand prize winners of the first ever Speak Truth To Power video contest – an opportunity for middle and high school classes to document work inspired by a human rights defender they had studied through the Speak Truth To Power curriculum. The classes at Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES selected the late 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Speak Truth To Power Human Rights Defender Wangari Maathai of Kenya and her organization, the Greenbelt Movement, and launched a project to crochet discarded plastic shopping bags into purses. The Speak Truth To Power lesson on Maathai introduces students to environmental activism and the right to participate in community life within the larger framework of international human rights standards. Included within the lesson are suggestions for student activism on the themes discussed.
The students’ winning video chronicled their work collecting, cutting, and crocheting the plastic bags, as well as their process of learning about Maathai’s work to prevent deforestation and encourage women’s empowerment. Fittingly, among Maathai’s projects was a movement to keep plastic bags out of landfills.
Plastic bags, which take as many as a thousand years to degrade if left in a landfill, are now being re-imagined as new consumer items, finding use as reusable shopping bags, doormats, and soda can cozies. The students chose to donate profits from the sale of these items to a wonderful cause: Maathai’s Greenbelt Movement, a grassroots NGO launched in Nairobi that educates, employs, and organizes women to combat deforestation. The good work of these students will not end with their trip to Tribeca, though. They intend to keep going and to expand by turning newspapers into gift bags.
These students, and the over 150 other groups who participated in the contest, are re-imagining our global future and finding ways to look beyond the status quo to a smarter, more sustainable world. Their award-winning video, included below, will be featured on April 29 as part of the Tribeca Film Festival and will be permanently housed at New York City’s Museum of Tolerance.
To view the first, second, and third place videos for high school and middle school, please visit the Speak Truth To Power video contest website.
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