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12 October, 2005

Awards recognize young peoples commitment to human rights

The impetus awards 2005, led by the Institute for Global Ethics UK Trust, and developed in association with the Citizenship Foundation, CSV and other partners, were held last week, supported by Harriet Harman, QC MP, Minister for Human Rights. The awards celebrate the commitment made by schools, colleges and youth organisations to explore shared values and to put these into practice in their communities in the context of the Human Rights Act, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year.

This year’s entries covered a wide range of real issues including the arms trade, racism, healthy living and violent crime. Young people from Northern Ireland recorded a radio piece to increase public knowledge of the importance of a ‘children’s section’ in the proposed Bill of Rights in Northern Ireland; pupils from Wales committed themselves to continuing a whole school approach to enabling everyone in the school to have a greater voice in the decision making process; and Birmingham pupils devised a ‘Luther King Rap’ to raise awareness of equal rights and opportunities for all students irrespective of their needs, wants and levels of understanding. The aim of the projects is to promote social cohesion, civil renewal and active citizenship.

The impetus showcase celebration at the Museum of London, was presented by young people who had put the projects into action using a variety of dance, video, art and presentations. The participants benefit through increased interpersonal, vocational and creative skills, as well as increased self-esteem.

Rabinder Singh, QC, impetus National Advisory Panel, commented, "I have never seen Martin Luther King's speech brought to life like that. It brought a tear to the eye. We must all remember that Human Rights are like a puppy, they're not for Christmas, they're for life!"

Ellen Archibold, a pupil at St Hild's C of E primary school, Durham, whose school presented ‘Voice of the Children’, said, "Watching the other schools made us realise what a big issue we were tackling and how important Human Rights are to our society".

Nathaniel Dobson, also a pupil at St Hild's C of E primary school, commented, "It's brilliant that young people think so strongly about citizenship issues such as discrimination!"

Dan Mace, trustee, Citizenship Foundation, who sits on the steering group, said, “The originality and creativity put into each project is incredible. It is amazing to see young people’s enthusiasm and drive to develop their citizenship skills; they are leading the way in tackling real issues and are an inspiration to their communities and society as a whole.”

impetus is not a competition. Project submissions are judged against the four impetus criteria, not against each other:

• exploration of shared rights and responsibilities

• creative application of values across and beyond the school, college or youth organisation

• whole school/youth organisation involvement

• active engagement with local and wider communities.

The projects which are entered have to show a commitment to good practice in values-based approaches to education for citizenship or Personal and Social Education (PSE) in the context of the Human Rights Act.

For information on how to get involved, please visit www.impetusawards.org.uk.

Further information

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