Belfast Telegraph

Lower Castlereagh kids learning the ‘rights’ stuff

Young people from east Belfast were involved in a groundbreaking initiative to bring human rights into the heart of the community last week.

The Lower Castlereagh Community Group, as part of their Summer Scheme programme invited the Human Rights Consortium to host an afternoon of workshops on human rights for young people in the area.

Sammy Douglas MLA delighted the children by showing up to judge the art competition and present prizes.

John McCullough, of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) led the young people through workshops, which took place at Avoniel leisure centre, tackling issues such as social inclusion, community safety and human rights generally.

The Human Rights Consortium ran art and letter-writing competitions where the children and young people learned about human rights and explored what rights are most important to them.

Children under 12 years old made colourful human rights postcards while the teenagers wrote letters to Sammy Douglas, telling him what particular right they would like to see in a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

Congratulations to Aaron and Alisha who won the art competition, and to Ace and Leonie who won top prizes in the letter writing competition.

Sorcha McKenna, Campaigns Manager at the Human Rights Consortium, said: “These workshops are a great opportunity for young people to learn not only about rights but how to constructively engage with local MLAs. Many of the young people raised the issues of inequality, unemployment and rioting which they felt should be addressed through a Bill of Rights.”

The initiative also saw Tricia Magee from WAVE Trauma Centre work with teens from east Belfast and Ohio, USA to discuss human rights from a local and international context over the Twelfth.

Sam White, of the Lower Castlereagh Community Group, said: “Today was a great success — the children learned about their rights while also having a great time. We will continue to promote human rights in our community and to educate young people on how to ensure that theirs are upheld.”

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