by Marsha Rakestraw

December 10, 2017, marks International Human Rights Day, which this year honors the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As much progress as humanity has made in establishing and maintaining rights for others, we have only brushed the surface of ensuring equal human rights for all.

Surprisingly, too many people still think of slavery as something abolished with the U.S. Civil War.

Too many of us still make daily choices that support sweatshops, child labor, racism, oppression, and other acts of injustice.

One of the ways we can help promote human rights is to teach others about human rights issues.

IHE has a number of activities and lesson plans regarding human rights issues.

Here’s a sampling:

Do You Want Slavery With That?
Modern slavery is still ubiquitous. Students hear about it from the slaves themselves (through their stories) and consider what they can do to help.
Recommended for grades 6 and up.
Time: 60-90 minutes

Don’t Tread on Me: Exploring Oppression
This activity helps students think critically about what oppression is and who gets oppressed, and invites them to consider ways they can promote justice and equality.
Recommended for grades 6 and up.
Time: 60-90 minutes

The Heartbeat of Social Change
People often find it easy to judge oppressions that society has addressed in the past, yet miss the similarities between past and present forms of oppression. This activity compares historical social change issues to present issues. Through this activity, students will be able to recognize similarities in justifications for oppression between current and past social justice issues and to recognize that some reasoning people use for present day oppressions have failed the test of time when used for other oppressions.
Recommended for grades 9 and up.
Time: 45-60 minutes

Human Rights for All?
This activity familiarizes students with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and inspires them to think about the freedoms they enjoy that others cannot.
Recommended for grades 9 and up.
Time: 30-45 minutes

Me Against My Brother: An Exploration of Genocide
Students explore genocide, its broader impacts, and develop a means for taking action to prevent or address genocide.
Recommended for grades 8 & up.
Time: Several days to several weeks

A Moment in Your Shoes
How will students feel spending a moment in the shoes of a battery hen or a child slave? Use this lively and thought- provoking activity to introduce human and animal issues and the connections between them.
Recommended for grades 6 and up.
Time: 45 minutes to several days

Find more IHE activities/lesson plans on human rights issues in our Resource Center (filter by type, subject, and age level).

Check out our curated Pinterest boards for resources on a variety of human rights issues.

Let’s remember that, as Frances Moore LappĂ© says, “Every choice we make can be a celebration of the world we want.”

Let’s work to make choices that support and nurture a world in which every person everywhere enjoys human rights.


Be sure to forward this to at least ONE person who would benefit from one of these resources.


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