As a teacher, I run a social responsibility group at my elementary school. For those of you who are familiar with Free the Children, it’s affiliated with their Me to We Schools in Action program. This is our second year, and I’m continually amazed at how dedicated and selfless these students are.
Those of you who are familiar with Miss BC and Courage Productions’ other program, Top Teen of North America (which is, by the way, accepting applicants for our 2011 competition at http://www.topteenofnorthamerica.com), know how important volunteering and giving back to the community is to our organization. Darren and I – both teachers – have been very lucky to work with some incredible, selfless and giving individuals who are making a difference in the world. That’s the same work my Me to We group is doing at school, but at a younger level.
Twenty-one years ago this November 20th, the United Nations met in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Countries all over the world signed this convention: that children should have the right to be safe, to be healthy, to be educated, to speak up.
These rights are not being upheld. 121 million primary-school aged children are denied the right to an education, most of them girls. 218 million children are forced to work as child laborers, many of them in unsafe conditions, like on mine fields or with explosives or chemicals. Over 300 000 children in areas where there is conflict are forced to serve as soldiers, servants or sex slaves by armies. Every day, 28 000 children die from causes related to poverty. [http://www.iamsilent.com/]
These children are not able to speak up for themselves, so we will. On November 19th, students in my school and people all over the world will take a 24-hour Vow of Silence – we will not speak to draw attention to those who cannot speak. We will protest with silence, as these children are forced to silence every day.
I encourage all of you to join us. You can collect pledges and donate them to Free the Children’s Adopt a Village campaign, raising funds for clean water, for alternative sources of income, for education and for health for a needy village; or donate them locally to the Kids Help Phone or other organizations that provide aid to children. If you’d like to pledge to the students at my school, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d prefer not to collect pledges or pledge yourself, don’t – but join us anyway.
Speak out against injustice towards children by not speaking at all. Take the Vow of Silence on November 19th, from midnight to midnight. We can make a difference.