Become a Defender


Everyone can become a defender, whether you have one day or an entire academic year. Following are a few examples of how you can support your students in their efforts to defend human rights.

Robert Kennedy meets a local man in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, 8 June 1966. Photographer unknown in the Robert F. Kennedy Photograph Collection.

Robert Kennedy meets a local man in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, 8 June 1966. Photographer unknown in the Robert F. Kennedy Photograph Collection.


Have a strategy:

  • Identify the problem to be addressed.
  • Research the problem: Why is this a problem, who can make the change you want, what solutions have been tried (some of this will have been covered in the lesson).
  • What is the change you want to make happen?
  • Define your action and be specific about who you are targeting – who can make the change happen?
  • How can you get others involved?
  • How will you measure your impact?


Select an action that is simple and focused, such as letter writing or an information day in your school.


  • Working cooperatively, create a Bill of Human Rights for your class or school and then post it so that everyone who enters your class or school understands the culture the students desire.
  • Organize a meeting with a community leader regarding a local issue that is important to your school and ask them to take an action or position.
  • Hold a letter-writing day.
  • Host a day of awareness with posters and fliers educating your school on a specific international issue. If you have enough prep time, include a petition to the necessary authorities.


Focus on an event or program that builds over the week from awareness to action.


Organize a week to change. Start by identifying an organizing committee. Survey the school community and identify the top five things the community wants to change. Present choices to align with human rights in your school, community, nationally or internationally. Over the course of the week educate your target community on the issue and then provide a series of actions people can take.


Build a program that integrates your classroom learning with a comprehensive, multi-layered project. Consider designing a human-rights-based service-learning project. Service-learning connects learning objectives to service objectives with the goal that participants acquire greater skills, values and knowledge while recipients benefit from the services provided.

Examples of service-learning projects that align with the defenders and issues highlighted in this curriculum include:

  • The environment
  • Poverty
  • Discrimination and equal rights
  • Education
  • Health
  • Law and justice


One Response to “Become a Defender”

  1. Heidi Meadows December 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    I feel it is a blessing that I received this opportunity to read and respond to what I am seeing… I live in a multi cultural city of which I feel the whole concept of understanding others and how to get along are major concepts to reach to our youth. I am a youth advocate and have been for over 6 years. I was involved in one program that was put to rest last Dec, much to my dismay… but it gave me an opportunity to try again… for our future America… and so birthed “Souly for YOUth.” It is in its early stages but is building to become a way for youth and our adults to get involved. There is a negative connotation to community service but for me, it involves everyone. So, I am happy to see others giving their wisdom on how we all can come together… Thank you for sharing… I will be too. With much sincerety… Heidi ( Meadows )

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