Social media and global news outlets are being bombarded by human rights issues, from the breaking of news to online petitions calling for action. Human rights issues are a vital part of our daily lives. This comes in the form of our rights in the workplace or an educational establishment, or through witnessing a breach in human rights. In our current affairs, we are witnessing news about migration, LGBT rights and racial discrimination almost constantly. Such weighty issues aren’t always easy for children to understand, but as the future generation, their understanding is crucial in order to bring positive change. Just Lincolnshire explored some of these issues in a fun, engaging and active approach over three days at Hill Holt Wood.
As a volunteer, I was lucky enough to spend the day in a beautiful wooded area, with the sun peeking through a canopy of leaves, accompanying a group of children from one activity to the next. The vast array of activities included allowing the children to act as the jury for a trial after watching three scenarios that outlined human rights issues throughout British history. These included: the royal forest, civil disobedience in regards to practising a differing religion to that of the monarchy, and the Suffragette movement. Not only was it good fun as demonstrated through the animation in the room, but it clearly ignited enthusiasm for some of the issues, as our wander through an archway of overreaching trees towards the next activity was punctuated by “VOTES FOR WOMEN” by some of the children.
Throughout the day, each group of children were enthralled by their discussions ranging from ideas about their own identity to issues surrounding migration. They were encouraged to think about the things that made up their own identity, including family, friends, hobbies and interests and gained insight into understanding others. Alongside these thought-provoking activities, they engaged in energetic endeavours such as collecting pine cones and hay to create a bug hotel, as a way to explore what a community is as well as also having the opportunity to bake their own Pitta bread.
Prior to this day, however, I had never seen a group of ten year olds so spirited as these children were when they were taught how to thatch a roof. Despite it being nearly the end of a long day, they were incredibly excited to learn how to use a Leggett and arrange the bundles of reed to create shelter. They worked well as a team to thatch their side of the roof best whilst also learning about the type of manual labour that was common during the medieval period.
While their vitality and buoyancy were never lacking, the children seemed pleased at the prospect of heading home after a long, exhilarating day. A day in which they gained some valuable insight into the human rights issues that are prominent in our current society.
As a volunteer, I felt grateful to have had even a small role in bringing awareness of such crucial issues to a future generation.