Write a Letter. Change a Life.

Write a Letter. Change a Life.

by Kim Kriege, Krista Quint, and Ittai Wong, Secondary School English Teachers

What is Write For Rights? 
It all starts with a pen. Write a letter. Change a life. Write for Rights is a global human rights campaign led by Amnesty International to mobilize millions of people through the power of words. Amnesty identifies people and communities at risk of human rights abuses worldwide, who need solidarity and justice. Cases are selected where global activism can make a huge and immediate difference in human rights. Through letters of solidarity, petitions and protests, campaigners worldwide press for action from people in power and governing institutions who can make change happen. Letters, emails, tweets, and messages are sent to government offices, prison cells, family homes, where small acts grow into measurable impact. 

Grade 10 students are engaging directly in the Write for Rights Campaign through their current unit in Language & Literature, focusing on Advocacy, Fairness & Development. Each group of students has chosen a WFR case they wish to engage in and are researching the background context and information about that case. They will share their understanding through an opinion editorial as well as their presentations to the community on October 13th.

Collage of 10 individual pictures of people who are victims of human rights abuses.

Who are some of the cases this year?
This year’s cases represent a broad and diverse range of people who have been wrongfully accused for one reason or another. Joanah, Netsai and Cecillia from Zimbabwe were abducted, beaten and jailed for protesting against the corrupt government. Zineb (France) was killed by the reckless use of a tear gas grenade. Nearly four years later, an investigation into her death is still ongoing, and no one has been charged or suspended over the killing and Zineb’s family are still waiting for justice. Yren and Mariana (Paraguay)  have been fighting for years to change their legal names. Trans people in Paraguay cannot legally change their names or obtain identity documents that match their gender identity. This means trans students cannot get school certificates in their chosen names, which makes
finding a job difficult. This inequality has motivated Yren and Mariana to become activists, to demand change. If they could get documentation that matches who they are, it would mean the state had started to recognize their existence as trans women. 

What will happen on October 13th?
Join us at YIS in celebrating Write for Rights on Thursday, October 13th! The Grade 10 students will be representing each of the ten cases. The event is open to families from 3:30pm-4pm on the second floor of the main building. All are invited to learn about the cases and participate in the letter writing campaign. Students will be guiding visitors in writing letters of solidarity and protest. 

More information about Write for Rights can be found on Amnesty International’s website. If you are interested in also writing a letter, but cannot make it to the event, you can access the case files here. On the second page of each template, you will find the relevant address and other ways to take action on your own social media.

2 high school girls with a laptop computer in between them, facing the camera

Two Gr. 10 students participate in the Write For Rights activity combining advocacy writing and service learning in spring 2022.

Caucasian lady and 2 students sitting at a table writing and reading letters

YIS staff and students writing letters in the spring of 2022 to advocate for victims of human rights abuses. 

How does the unit connect to service learning at YIS?
Service learning is a valuable part of the YIS curriculum. Visit the school’s service learning webpage to learn more about what is happening both inside and outside of the classroom. We also recommend you peruse our service model, which is a cyclical method for engaging in service learning. Write for Rights follows the tenets of service learning through its real-world application and authentic audience.

Your words can change the world. We hope to see you on campus on Thursday! 

Have a look at pictures from last year’s event.