SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- The Human Rights Declaration of 1948 may not be as well known as the Declaration of Independence, but to the fifth-graders of Laura Garrido’s social studies class, it is a living, breathing document that formed the basis for a human rights celebration that took place last month at Pocantico Hills School.
“Human rights is an integral part of the fifth grade social studies curriculum,” said Garrido. “Students begin to understand how cooperation between nations is vital to protecting human rights and supporting economic development. EngageNY has a unit around these important issues, and we have utilized this resource. We will continue to learn through current events and literature how cooperation can be a very effective tool in the fight for equality and civil rights in the Western Hemisphere and beyond.”
Along with Garrido, and teachers Marina Lombardo and Madeline McDougal, the students experienced an afternoon that was a culmination to a course that focused on primary research, speech writing, and presentations.
It also included an earlier visit to the United Nations to learn how multinational organizations promote peace, cooperation and cultural understanding.
The project began with students choosing a human rights hero as a focus. Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Malala Yousafzai and others who are perhaps lesser recognized were among the many leaders who were selected for their contributions to advancing human rights in society.
The topic of human rights is one that is central to the needs of people around the globe who are suffering from lack of housing, home, food and even water. Students learned that these crises are not new, nor are they a distant reality, and they became familiar with the issues through this collaborative project.
The 30 articles of the Human Rights Declaration cover topics that include freedom from poverty, starvation and slavery, as well as civil rights, right to equal pay and the right to rest from work.