County Executive Robert Astorino has officially declared May 23 - 27, 2016 as Upstander Week. This special week is meant to encourage student activism and awareness by inspiring students to become “upstanders” (rather than bystanders) – and to take an active role in changing the world. It is a call to action for participating schools to get their communities involved by hosting an event to bring attention to a particular human rights issue.
How it Began:
The idea was born when a group of teachers who serve on the Educators Planning Committee of the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC) decided that there should be a day for students to actively get their schools and communities involved in human rights awareness. Then, the HHREC incorporated the plan into its annual Human Rights Institute for High School Student Leaders that is held in March, with participation from over 200 students from approximately 22 area high schools on March 15, 2006. There, the students learned about the genocide currently taking place in Darfur, Sudan, from Rebecca Hamilton, founder of the Darfur Action Group at Harvard Law School. They also got together in workshops to discuss what they and their schools could do to bring attention to the Darfur genocide and other pressing human rights issues.
Who's Taking Part This Year:
Schools throughout Westchester County have been planning events since this year’s Student Institute on March 10. Many of these schools will be holding events on one of the days during
As a result of activities this year we reached several thousand area students in an effort to raise awareness of Human Rights Issues. The ultimate goal of these activities is to encourage activism and make students part of the solution. The following schools represent some of the diverse events sponsored by participants in this year's Student Institute.
2016 Upstander Week Activities
Blind Brook High School
The newly formed Blind Brook Human Rights Club is designing a scavenger hunt that will take place during Upstander Week. Stationed around the school will be Q.R. codes that link to articles and videos related to human rights violations. For instance, at the water fountain, they will have a video on the Flint Water Crisis and by the lockers will be a link to an article on homelessness in Westchester County. At the end, students will complete a survey on the information found in the articles and videos. Our goal this year is to bring awareness to various global concerns and get students talking about the issues. They are also in the process of organizing a 5K walk for next year to raise money.
Edgemont High School
Students at Edgemont have decided to focus their attention on the topic of child labor and cacao production in Ghana and Ivory Coast. The five pairs of students from each of the tenth grade global history classes will create poster board presentations, each focusing on one component of this human rights problem. The projects will be displayed in a large showcase in an attempt to create awareness and generate dialogue in the school.
French American School New York
The French American School students have decided to help victims of domestic violence in our region. They will be working with My Sister's Place, putting together "Birthday Boxes" for the children. This will be an entire school effort for both the middle and high school grades. They will be collecting shoe boxes and having bake sales to raise money to fill the boxes. The "Birthday Boxes" will then be given to My Sister's Place.
Students have selected the topic of homelessness in Westchester County. Students will be appearing each morning on the school's video announcements, and will have a table to engage students and provide information at lunchtime each day of the week. They will also be raising funds for a local organization which works directly with the homeless in Westchester.
New Rochelle High School
Students are working to provide a home for refugees from the world's newest nation, war-torn South Sudan. After hosting a presentation in April by Nya Chambang, President of the Thon Met African Peace Foundation and former refugee from South Sudan, the New Rochelle High School Human Rights Coalition has partnered with Thon Met and California Pizza Kitchen. If a person brings a flyer to California Pizza Kitchen in Scarsdale, Stamford, or on Park Ave. South on Friday or Saturday (May 13, 14), the restaurant will donate 20% of the check to help refugees from South Sudan. The goal is to raise sufficient funds to build a home for refugees in the neighboring nation of Ethiopia. The cost of a home is a remarkably modest $2000.
Ossining High School
Ossining will be hosting a presentation by Andrew Courtney, an exhibiting artist, teacher and an activist for social change. His art and documentary photography has been exhibited internationally, across the United States and in local galleries. Courtney taught Fine Arts at Woodlands High School for a career. For the past 25 years he has been doing human rights work in the Middle East, particularly in the Palestine Territories, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. The primary focus of his work continues to be refugee issues that extend from the 1948 "Palestinian Nakba" to today's Syrian refugee crisis. He will be speaking at Ossining High School on Tuesday, May 24. There will be a Q & A session after Mr. Courtney's presentation. During the remainder of Upstander Week, the students will be collecting household items such as cutlery, bedding, plates, cups, pots, pans, etc. for newly displaced Syrian refugees. These donations will be given to the nearest donation center, the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) , in New Haven, Connecticut. More information on IRIS can be found at http://www.irisct.org/refugees.html.
Pelham Memorial High School
Students who attended the Human Rights Institute have officially created a human rights club for their high school. They are now organizing a fundraiser/awareness campaign about food insecurity in Westchester County. The student who organizes the best campaign will be given the opportunity to make the morning announcements on Friday of Upstander Week. The club meets once a week and gives presentations on a different topic each week.
Rocky Point High School
The Rocky Point Human Rights Club has been given a large showcase to display artwork promoting different human rights violations throughout the school year. For 2015-2016 the showcase was used to show awareness for the issue of human trafficking. For Upstander Week this year the students have decided to cover the showcase with paper and have a "big reveal" on what students should expect for the 2016-2017 school year. The paper will be covered with quotes to get the students to think about what may be inside. The showcase will be unveiled on Friday, May 27. The students have chosen to promote awareness of the lack of education in our country as well as in other countries. In September, the students will start to collect supplies and books as well as monetary donations. The students are in the process of researching book for book programs (such as Tom's shoes) to send the donations.
Solomon Schechter School
The Human Rights Club will hold activities on May 13, 16, 17 and 19. The human rights issues to be addressed will be human trafficking, access to clean water, hunger, discrimination, domestic abuse, and the refugee crisis. The schedule of events is as follows:
Friday, May 13: There will be a screening of excerpts from the film "Not My Life" about human trafficking. The students will also introduce the UNICEF Tap Project, which raises money for clean water throughout the world when people agree not to use their cell phones for a period of time.
Monday, May 16: The students will begin a school wide food drive. Brown bags will be distributed with specific suggestions of food donations. The food will be distributed to a local food bank.
Tuesday, May 17: There will be an activity entitled, "What's It Like to Experience Discrimination?" - a demonstration of discriminatory treatment of people.
Thursday, May 19: A survey will be distributed explaining that on Thursday, May 19, students and teachers will have the opportunity to opt out of the regular lunch and instead have only rice, beans and water. For each person who chooses to opt out, Solomon Schechter will donate $2.00 to the "Feeding America" food bank network.
In addition, during weekly Advisory periods based on grade, students will play the game "Against All Odds," which will help them understand the life of a refugee and they will also write letters and make bracelets to donate to victims of domestic violence.
Throughout the entire program, students will put facts about various human rights issues in the Daily Bulletin and at various spots around the school. They will also prepare sheets with facts about human rights issues related to particular classes, which the teachers can hand out to their students. For example, they will prepare a sheet for English classes with facts about the percentage of illiterate students in particular countries.
2015 Upstander Week Activities
Briarcliff High School
The students will be making a series of public service announcements dealing with food injustice. They are also creating a twitter account with the goal of bringing awareness to our community about the ever increasing number of children who go without meals in our region.
French American School New York (FASNY)
On Tuesday, May 19 there will be an assembly program led by FASNY’s Diversity Club to announce and share their two projects:
The We Need Change project is a student based movement; a spring off of all the recent social justice movements. The goal of this project is to bring attention to major issues concerning diversity in today’s society using professional photography to humanize and localize these issues.
The Skin I'm In project aims to create a visual representation of the severity of micro-aggressions and common day slurs present in our every day school lives but also in our society.
New Canaan High School
Human Rights Advocates are holding a Bake Sale for the earthquake victims of Nepal. They are providing information about the devastation and all proceeds will be sent to the Red Cross for Nepal. The students will also distribute information to their classmates about the possibility of having a smaller version of the Student Institute in their own school at the beginning of the 2015 - 2016 academic year.
Ossining High School
Fundraising Activity for the Thirst Project
During Upstander Week, Ossining students will bring awareness to the need for clean water around the world. They will conduct a social experiment that draws attention to lack of clean drinking water in the world and the illnesses that result from drinking “dirty” water. Their goal is to raise between $200-$500.
We are a Thirst Project is the world’s leading YOUTH water activism organization. It was started by Seth Maxwell after one of his friends exposed him to the water crisis around the world. We are a movement of high school and college students who build freshwater wells in developing nations and impoverished communities to provide people with safe, clean water. Thirst Project is a nonprofit organization that travels across the United States speaking at schools to educate students about the global water crisis and challenges them to fundraise to build wells. So far, they have given 280,000 people in 13 countries safe, clean water.
Rocky Point High School
Students are creating a public service announcement video to be played in homerooms to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking. The campaign will continue through homecoming next year. At homecoming the students plan to hand out brochures, sell muffins to raise funds to buy bracelets and donate the money to a group which is working to end human trafficking such as the Polaris Project.
In addition the students who attended the 2015 Human Rights Institute for High School Student Leaders plan to start a Human Rights Club in their school which will be open to everyone.
Sleepy Hollow High School
Students are planning fundraising activities to support the victims of the Nepal earthquake. The campaign will begin on Third Friday evening (May 15) in Tarrytown with an awareness campaign. The culminating event will be a fundraising concert on Friday, June 5 at 7:30 pm by the Hudson. The bands will include both students and local adults. The students who participated in the Student Institute have enlisted the support of the Model UN Club and the Humans to Humans Club and everyone has decided to sponsor the efforts of Heifer International (www.heifer.org). Heifer International's mission is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the earth.
Solomon Schechter School
On Monday, May 18 there will be a program from 6:30 - 8:00 pm. The first half will be a screening of a portion of "A Path Appears," the sequel to "Half the Sky." The second half will be a talk by Fredric Green, from the Westchester County District Attorney's Office, about cases of domestic violence, child and elder abuse, and sex trafficking.
On Wednesday, May 20 there will be a 45-minute in-school program led by members of the Human Rights Club. The first part of the program will be a presentation about human rights issues. The second part will involve the students making bracelets to send to My Sister's Place, in order to show support for people who have been victims of abuse.
Walter Panas High School
The UN/Inter-Ethnic Club, the National Honor Society along with two freshmen students and students who participated in HHREC's Student Institute on March 19, 2015 are organizing a "Panas" donation to Nepal. Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries, and has been devastated by a powerful earthquake, and it's aftershocks, in recent weeks. Many have lost homes, friends, and family members. The students are asking everyone in the school to donate any change they can to jars present around the school, or, to the jars going around the lunch room during each lunch period. This collection will continue until the end of the school year. All the collected money will be donated to Nepal via the Rotary Club. The campaign is stressing that any contribution can and will make a difference. Students are urging their classmates to be Upstanders not Bystanders.
2014 Upstander Week Activities
Sleepy Hollow High School
On May 17 Sleepy Hollow High School will hold a Special Olympics Spring Games on the campus of the high school. The event will begin at 8:30 am and conclude at 3:30 pm. Track events include 50m, 100m, 400m Relay, Walking, Running) and Field (Turbo Javelin, High Jump, Running Long Jump, Shot Put, Standing Long Jump).
Solomon Schechter School
On May 19 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm there will be a screening of, Half the Sky, a film based on the best-selling book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Following the film there will be a presentation by Raina Kadavil.
Harrison High School
On May 20 the Human Rights and Global Awareness Club and Friends of Rachel will present the award-winning documentary, Bully, in the Harrison High School Student Union. Following the film, there will be a debrief/discussion session. On Friday, May 30 the 1st Annual Upstanders Walk will take place at the Harrison High School Track beginning at 6pm. Proceeds will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Center.
Croton Harmon High School
The students will focus on a local and global theme during Upstander Week.
Locally: "Words Last Forever" - a "think before you speak" campaign/pledge where they raise awareness about improper words students use and how what they say and how we judge others has lasting effects (i.e. bullying, intolerance, disrespect, hate, etc.). There will be a screening of the film "Bully" on Thursday, May 22 - to make the message hit home.
Globally: "A Democratic Ukraine" - raising awareness about aggression and appeasement in Crimea and Ukraine, where people can sign a petition, which will be sent to diplomats on all sides.
North Salem High School
Under the direction of Amnesty International and the Human Rights Class, students will work on the campaign, Spread the World to End the Word. Language afftects attitudes. Attitudes impact actions. This ia an on-going effort to raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the word "retard(ed)" and encourage people to pledge to stop using the R-word. The campaign is intended to get schools, communities and organizations to rally and pledge their support to help create communities of inclusion and acceptance for all people.
Briarcliff High School
The students are running an anti-bullying campaign. Their activity began with a district-wide participation in the Defeat the Label program to Stand for Change. The first day consisted of viewing a brief video and then standing in a moment of silence. Upstander Week will consist of morning announcements, posters identifying who students could turn to if they are bullied and ending on Friday, May 23 with a school-wide action in which several human rights groups with in the school all dress the same in solidarity with all those who have been victims of bullying.
New Canaan High School
Students at New Canaan High School perceive themselves as "typical" or "atypical" New Canaan. There is an overall sense of exclusivity among different groups of students that needs to be debunked. We strive to break down perceptions and create a sense of "one united community" that is comprised of different people who are truly equal. Using the school's mentoring program, the sophomore corps will facilitate team-building activities and create school-wide events that focus on commonalities while celebrating diversity.
2013 Upstander Week Activities
Teach-in Emphasizes Action on Poverty at Alexander Hamilton High School
The harsh realities of poverty in America were brought home to students at Alexander Hamilton when students participated in a special teach-in, part of the countywide initiative to encourage activism and awareness among students. The program, led by Alexander Hamilton history teacher Al McCutchen, involved a number of student activities. They included the creation and distribution of posters highlighting poverty and its often unlikely victims as well as introducing students to an online poverty simulation that tests players' ability to survive on $1,000 a month.
The game, called "What You Know About Poverty," can be found on the website www.playspent.org. The goal is to end the month with some money left over. Mr. McCutchen said exposure to the stimulation made students aware of how quickly people's lives can change as a result of changes in employment, housing, medical costs and other expenses. Students also watched a number of videos on poverty that gave them a more realistic perspective on what it looks and feels like today.
North Salem Middle High School Focuses on the Issue of Acceptance
With a focus on how many words in our daily vernacular can be unconsciously derogatory or degrading, student participants at this year's HHREC Student Institute developed a week long program to increase student awareness of this issue through presentations in homerooms, posters displayed around the school, and by encouraging students to put money in a Swear Jarwhen using derogatory terms. All proceeds, over $100 were sent to the Trevor Project, a LGBT suicide prevention organization. Students could also wear a free rainbow upstander bracelet and sign a schoolwide pledge to show their support to make North Salem Middle High School a more accepting place.
Rye Neck High School Raises Awareness About Human Trafficking
Student participants in The Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center Leadership Program decided to inform their fellow classmates about human trafficking around the world as well as at home in the United States.
The program included hanging posters with statistics and facts, including;
• “2 children are sold every minute”,
• “Slavery was abolished 150 years ago, right? While it is true that slavery is illegal almost everywhere on earth, the fact that there are more slaves today than there ever were”
• “Freedom/Dignity/Justice is not for sale”,
• “Empower the world’s most vulnerable to break the cycle of exploitation”
• “Slavery is what slavery has always been: About one person controlling another person using violence and then exploiting them economically, paying them nothing. That’s what slavery is about”
• “Over 100,000 children in the United States are forcefully put into this trade each year”
Second, they showed two short videos and a powerpoint in homeroom to raise
awareness for human trafficking among their peers on May 20 and 21.
Third, in support of human trafficking awareness they have become wholesalers of Not For Sale Campaign hoping to cell Thai cord bracelets. This will not only make an impact by creating jobs and funding a project in a country that is most prominently affected by trafficking, but also by raising money to establish a human rights club in Rye Neck with Mrs. Carpiniello as the advisor. The money that stays with us will help return the money used to buy the bracelets and help get us started to find other worthy causes both local and abroad that we can support to make a change.
Finally, on, May 22 the students gave a short fact quiz in homeroom. Those who had the highest score were entered into a raffle to win a T-shirt and bracelet. We hope this will help inspire others spread awareness of this human rights violation.
Not For Sale creates tools that engage business, government, and grassroots in order to incubate and grow social enterprises to benefit enslaved and vulnerable communities.
Solomon Schechter of Westchester High School Focuses on Child Trafficking
The students decided to focus on the problem of child trafficking. In particular, they focused on the need for safe houses for children who are threatened by such trafficking, and they are hoping to build such a house in the Washington area sometime in the future.. The students are planning to post information – posters, etc. – on a bulletin board at their school. Then, they will make a video about the issue, which they will share with their school.
Previous Upstander Week Activity at Scarsdale High School
|Upstander Day at Scarsdale High School - View Video|
Workshops at High School Inspires Student Action
On October 21 the entire High School community took part in a day-long series of presentations and workshops that focused on the importance of being an "upstander" - someone who stands up and speaks out, or takes action when encountering injustice. The focus of the day reflects the Scarsdale Schools' motto, "non sibi" - not for one's self.
Students and teachers gathered as a group to view a film about child labor around the world, heard about previous and upcoming visits by Scarsdale students to assist with the Katrina recovery in Bay St. Louis on the Mississippi Gulf Coast as part of the SOS for Education project, and learned about a proposed trip to Ghana to work on a malaria prevention program.
During the day, students took part in 13 workshops on other opportunities to make a difference. Students also presented workshops on four projects that are the focus of student clubs - Free the Children, Partnership for Youth, Pine Ridge Reservation and Habitat for Humanity. Following Upstander Day, students created another club, Vitamin Angel Alliance, to support an effort described in one of the workshops. This club is dedicated to the prevention of childhood blindness.