Walk, festival aim to educate community about Human Rights
What are human rights? There are 30 of them outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed by the United Nations under the direction of Eleanor Roosevelt more than 60 years ago. The list includes rights such as we are all “born free and equal,” the “right to life, liberty and security of person,” and the “right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” according to the web site humanrights.com.
“The Declaration was drafted by representatives of all regions of the world and encompassed all legal traditions,” the web site continues. “Formally adopted by the United Nations on Dec. 10, 1948, it is the most universal human rights document in existence, delineating the 30 fundamental rights that form the basis for a democratic society. Today, the Declaration is a living document that has been accepted as a contract between a government and its people throughout the world. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the most translated document in the world.”
Dec. 10 is now recognized internationally as Human Rights Day and is celebrated by the global community. Since it was founded in 2011, the Human Rights Walk and Festival in The Woodlands has reportedly been the largest Human Rights Day celebration in the United States. This year it will be held on Dec. 9 at Town Green Park from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Demme Durrett, a 2015 graduate of The John Cooper School, founded the event as a freshman as a way to complete her Girl Scout Gold Award. Durrett said she wanted to help raise awareness about Human Rights education in an effort to bring more peace and tolerance in the world and help reduce human rights violations.
“After learning about Houston’s staggering human trafficking problem-we’re actually the No. 1 city in the U.S.-I began planning a community-wide celebration of International Human Rights Day,” Durrett said. “I thought a large-scale event like this would be beneficial as it both brought awareness to the plight of human rights violations, like human trafficking, and presented human rights education as a tool.”
After an overwhelmingly positive response to the event in its first year, Durrett and her mother decided to expand beyond an annual event and founded the Youth for Human Rights – USA organization, which focuses on human rights education.
“While many people who live in the USA are fortunate to have incredible rights extended to them, there are many others who do not enjoy these basic rights. It is vital that we cultivate empathy for our fellow human beings. The best place to start is by listening to friends, family, and those you see around you,” Durrett said. “If someone is struggling, listen to their needs and see how you can help. In my opinion, starting with those around you is the best way to build a more peaceful and tolerant community.”
Registration and activities for the Human Rights Walk begin at 10:30 a.m. A welcome address, speakers and walk will begin at 11:30 a.m. and continue until 12:30 p.m. The route will be marked and is suitable for all ages, as well as wheelchair accessible. Posters, essays and artwork depicting the 30 basic human rights will be displayed along the route so that each step educates and raises awareness. Information booths also will line the path so walkers can learn more about various human rights organizations and how they are working to protect each individual’s rights.
Walkers are reminded to dress appropriately for the weather, which may include layers and sunscreen. Well behaved dogs on leashes are permitted to walk with their owners.
After the walk there will be plenty of entertainment options from live music performances to a car show. Other activities include rock wall climbing, face painting, carnival games, inflatables, arts and crafts tables, photos with Santa and other mascots, and more.
Go to www.humanrightswalk.org for more information on the walk and festival. To watch an educational video, read the Declaration and learn more about human rights, visit www.humanrights.com.
- Patricia Dillon is a features reporter for The Woodlands Villager. Contact her at her office 713-362-4433 or on Twitter: @Dillon_Villager.