New Roots Charter School in Ithaca will host a new class on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in September 2014, the school announced. The class will be based on the American Red Cross’ IHL Action Campaign and was proposed by students who participated in the campaign last year.
Students Soren Mortensen and Emily Feavearyear are responsible for most of the curriculum and organization of the class, under the supervision of Spanish teacher Maria Gimma. They designed the class as part of their “Capstone Project,” a graduation requirement that involves identifying a community issue and creating a plan to address it.
“At the end of last year’s campaign, we wanted to continue raising public awareness about International Humanitarian Law,” Feavearyear said. “Our Capstone Projects offered the perfect opportunity.”
While details for the course were still being planned, Feavearyear said students will discuss articles on humanitarian law and create a campaign for this year’s topics: refugees and gender. They also hope to have guest speakers visit the class to share their experience with these topics.
The IHL Action Campaign started in 2013 and was designed to educate students about the humanitarian laws that play a principal role in the Red Cross mission. IHL governs how people are treated during war. Each year, participants are asked to create an awareness campaign that incorporates specific topics. Last year’s topics were child soldiers and international justice.
The campaign was first introduced to New Roots by Gimma, who incorporated IHL lessons into her Spanish curriculum.
“We have a focus on sustainability; it is a large part of what our school does. We try to get kids involved in the community, and hopefully make it better for the future,” Gimma said. “I thought that International Humanitarian Law related well to this idea.”
In June the New Roots IHL campaign students went to the American Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C., as one of five groups invited to participate in the 2nd Annual IHL Youth Leadership Summit. The students were able to observe campaigns planned by other teams from around the country, participate in learning activities, and listen to guest speakers.
“It was a really wonderful experience, and it was amazing to see so many young people so impassioned and inspired by what we were learning,” said Feavearyear.
The Central New York Region of the American Red Cross had seven IHL Action Campaign teams last year, and will host eight teams this year, making it the most involved region in the nation. To learn more about the IHL Action Campaign, click here. To learn more about what the Red Cross offers youth and young adults, click here.