How Can We Use the Arts to Raise Awareness of Human Rights?

In fall of 2019, Tahoe Expedition Academy’s 5th-Grade class studied Human Rights in the North Lake area particularly following the essential questions of “What are Human Rights and how are they threatened?” and “How can we use the arts and technology to advocate for Human Rights?”

To begin research, the class began reading Esperanza Rising, connecting the book to Universal Declaration of Human Rights (U.D.H.R.), as well as their writing journals starting free writes on the issue. The class not only learned that Human Rights are threatened around the world, but it affects our immediate community compromising access to housing, education, and more.

Kate and Callie, leaders of the 5th grade class, traveled alongside with their students around the Tahoe area to meet with many experts. They took their class to The Nevada Museum of Art, connecting them to the art surrounding them and learning about artist Galen Brown, and his pieces.

We asked Kate what the most impactful part of this study was and she said, “As the students continue to become informed and well-rounded, they will continue to view themselves as active advocates that have the power to speak up when they see injustices in and out of the classroom.”

With the knowledge the students gained from this study, they each chose one topic that they felt connected to, then created their own art piece with a medium of their choice. The class presented their art at a gallery walk at the end of the semester for their families and other members of the community here at TEA.

Each student’s piece expressed an impactful part of their journey for the advocacy of others. Teaching students about Human Rights and how it affects those surrounding them allows them to advocate and teach others as well.