December 10, 2019, International Human Rights Day: Human Rights Educators USA honors Human Right Watch’s LA-based Student Task Force (STF) with a special Youth Engagement Recognition. The youth leadership-training program, which engages high school students and educators from the Los Angeles area and empowers them to advocate for human rights issues, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Human Rights Educators USA (HRE USA), a national network promoting human rights education in the United States, makes this award in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. HRE USA recognizes STF’s leadership in the promotion of children’s rights and its youth activism locally, nationally, and internationally. As STF Founder and Executive Director Pam Bruns said, “This recognition will mean so much to our teachers and students. It is a strong affirmation of our mission and the dedicated work by our LA youth.”
Each year, STF works with approximately 300 student leaders in public and private schools in Los Angeles. The STF chapters reach out to more than 25,000 students. Chapters establish core leadership teams that work with the STF staff and teacher advisors to prepare weekly agendas, lead meetings, engage members, plan events on campus, collaborate with school faculty and liaise with other STF chapters in order to engage with their school communities.
STF’s annual human rights campaigns utilize research and reports from the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division on issues such as the Global Refugee Crisis, Ending Military Use of Schools, Child Soldiers, and Juvenile Justice. Every campaign has a built-in advocacy action open to all campus community members. Actions include meeting with elected officials, international diplomats, city councils and school boards and developing innovative awareness-raising events. This fall, STF is using the framework of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to investigate how children’s rights are impacted by climate change, homelessness in Los Angeles, gun violence and U.S. immigration detention.
In recognition of these achievements, HRE USA co-founder Nancy Flowers reiterated, “We are inspired in this age of Malala and Greta to see U.S. students organizing to tackle such vital human rights issues.”