Ms. Amy Pitt, Richland Academy’s Children’s Rights Team Leader and Performing Arts Teacher, has high hopes for Richland students and the local and global community, as they embark on the 2013-2014 school year as the first elementary UNICEF Rights Respecting School in the GTA. Inquiring Minds is delighted to share this post from Ms. Pitt.
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Last December, we announced our commitment towards becoming the first elementary UNICEF Rights Respecting School in the Greater Toronto Area. Administrators, teachers, students, and parents worked hard towards our collective goal through surveys, meetings, workshops, and a symposium. We took on the initiative with full force because we believed in it. It’s amazing what can happen when people come together; children and adults working together for a common goal. This September marks our first year as a Rights Respecting School and I couldn’t be more excited. Grades 1-6 elected one member of their class to represent them on the Children’s Rights Team this year. They did this through a blind vote. The Children’s Right Team will meet once a month to discuss Children’s Rights issues inside and out of our school community. Team members will also embark on Peacemaking Circles where they will become proficient at the art of peaceful resolution, an art that they can share with their classrooms and assist when inevitable conflicts arise inside and out of the classroom. Our first task will be to synthesize the ideas our school community, (including staff, students, family members, and guests) has written on the Graffiti Wall next to Mrs. Oliveira’s office and create a new school wide charter during our first meeting in October.
Part of the Rights Respecting School Initiative includes using rights based language, respecting each other’s rights as children, democratic pedagogy, having a democratically elected Children’s Rights Team, and the promotion of peaceful resolution. That’s not all it’s about though. As advocates for social equality and the rights of children around the world, we as a school know that there are children whose rights are not being met. Some of them are very far away but some of them are right here in our own country.
As we become more aware of these issues it’s easy to become overwhelmed by sadness. It’s easy to feel small, to feel like it’s impossible for you as children to change our world. But here’s the cool thing. It’s really not. If you look back in history you’ll see that children have always been a big part of movements that have changed the world for the better. It’s very often the world’s children who have stood up for the rights of other people, of animals, and for our environment. Children have helped adults see that there’s another way; a way for peace, a way for love, and a way for compassion and understanding.
As we embark on our 2013-2014 school year as a UNICEF Rights Respecting School. My hope is that our students delve deeply into rich questions that matter to them both locally and globally, and feel empowered to think outside the box to change the world in ways that only they, as unique individuals, can do.