Cape Students Show Bright Future with Human Rights Projects

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Students from Provincetown Schools present their human rights work throughout the year Wednesday at the Hyannis Golf Club.

CCB MEDIA PHOTO
Students from Provincetown present their human rights work from throughout the year Wednesday at the Hyannis Golf Club.

HYANNIS – Cape Cod students on Wednesday helped to show that the future is in good hands.

Human Rights Academy groups from 10 Cape Cod schools assembled at the Hyannis Golf Club to present projects they have been working on over the course of the school year to promote human rights.

The schools that participated were Barnstable High School, Cape Cod Academy, Falmouth Academy, Falmouth High School, Monomoy Regional High School and Middle School, Nauset Regional High School, Provincetown Schools, the Riverview School and Sturgis East Public Charter School. Students from Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Dennis-Yarmouth High School, and Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School participated in the program but were unable to attend the Wednesday session.

“It never ceases to amaze me in terms of how much commitment, how much enthusiasm, how much passion they bring to this activity,” said Alan Milsted, a member of the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission. “They have this amazing capacity to show they care and to show they can make a change individually and as groups.”

Every fall, the Human Rights Commission invites schools to send a team of students to learn about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and gain skills for organizing and making change. The students then return to their schools to create and implement their own human rights projects.

Throughout the year the students work with organizations homeless organizations, including StreetReach. They also work with food pantries and groups like the Boys and Girls Club.

“They work across the whole county in different kinds of organizations,” Milsted said. “Some as fundraising. Some as direct action. Some is about education.”

Milsted said the kids can have a real impact.

“We heard earlier from one school who went to the Iowa Caucuses and talked to the presidential candidates there. They paid for themselves to go,” he said. “Another group is going to The Hague to an international Conference. They are putting some real weight into the work they are doing.”

Almost all the high schools on the Cape participate and the program has started to expand to middle schools.

Provincetown eight grader Safara Brooker has participated the last two years.

“We are the future because we can stop these current issues and it’s not like your too young,” she said. “You can always make a change. Small change matters.”

Provincetown School Counselor Monica Jalbert, who worked with the students for the first time this year, finds the program inspiring.

“[I] hope that all students get a chance to participate in something like this,” Jalbert said. “It’s wonderful for them, for their families and for the community.”

Brooker said she hopes to continue with the academy through her high school years.

“I would like to leave a legacy project for Provincetown Schools since I am graduating from there this year,” she said.

Milsted said as the years go on the projects larger in scale. Cape Cod Academy students organize the Shelter from the Storm concert every winter at Cape Cod Community College.

“In that time they have raise over $100,000 dollars to support local charities which the students identify,” he said. “And that brings together talented youngsters from across the Cape and is an amazing night.”

The Human Rights Academy began in 2007.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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