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Canyon’s Student Task Force Die-In

Campus event held to raise global awareness of children’s rights violations

Posted: September 29, 2009 10:40 p.m.
Updated: September 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Canyon High School students Shanley Newman, left, and Aysa Jackson were two of the seven demonstrators who "survived" during the event. Those who "died" are lying on the grass behind.

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Right on cue, Canyon High students trickled through the school’s front gates, hurrying to beat the tardy bell to their first period classes. Mornings on campus usually mean drowsy adolescents dashing to class.

But on Sept. 22, students slowed their pace so they could examine the chalk outlines of little bodies that were sprinkled on the sidewalks.

Canyon High’s chapter of the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force was the culprit behind the disturbance.

In order to raise awareness about global children’s rights violations, members of the Student Task Force outlined bodies of children and stated their cause of death.

Each body symbolized a specific human rights violation, such as sexual abuse or human trafficking.

At lunch, students bustled out of classrooms and trekked to the main quad. Student Task Force members, donning black shirts and holding signs that indicated each person’s cause of death, stood inside a caution taped area of grass.

As soon as the signal was given, students dropped “dead.” Only seven students “survived.”

Ruby Lawler, Shanley Newman and Aysa Jackson recounted testimonials from children whose human rights were brutally violated.
Kris Kaufman and Ashleigh Graham recited statistics pertaining to the vast number of children around the world who are victims of exploitation, child labor, forced combat and preventable diseases.

Amy Lopez explained the focus of the Student Task Force this year: pressuring the United States to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention, drafted from 1979 to 1989, is a legally binding international agreement to abide by 54 set articles that protect children’s rights.

The United States and Somalia are the only two countries in the world that have not ratified.

The youth leadership-training program is a Los Angeles branch of the Human Rights Watch that advocates for the protection of children’s rights in America and around the globe.

Members of the program attend workshops, support international campaigns, meet with elected officials and host awareness activities in their communities.

“If we are able to make a difference in just one person’s life, the Die-In, and every advocacy campaign that the Student Task Force works on, will be worth the effort,” said Kaela Cayama, a senior at Canyon High School.

Megan Scherich is president of the Student Task Force and a senior at Canyon High School.


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