Student Activism and The Amnesty Human Rights Awareness Conference


On January 31, members of the Amnesty club at Friends Academy piled into a bus and drove to Adelphi University to spend the day at the Amnesty Human Rights Awareness Conference. Being someone who is passionate about human rights, I was really excited to attend the different workshops and learn more about activism.


Once we arrived, we were pooled into a larger room with students from high schools across Long Island. This diversity of perspective is what made the conference especially enlightening, and it was truly amazing to hear the varied opinions of students our age who are so close by.


Workshops from the conference included:

  • Immigrant Youth on Long Island: Do They Have Rights?
  • Addressing the Mental Health Gap in the LGBTQ+ Community
  • Gang Awareness and Prevention
  • Make Peace, Not War…From Student Clubs to College Degrees (in Peace Studies) to Careers (in Peacebuilding)
  • The Power of Symbols Deconstructing Hate
  • I Know Your Rights: Constitutional Rights Regarding Police and Protest
  • Healing from Sexual Assault through the Arts
  • Social Media and Human Rights: What can you do?


Clearly, we were bound to find something engrossing at this conference. I personally found the workshop which discussed mental health in the LGBTQ+ community particularly informative and striking. Here at Friends Academy the mental health of LGBTQ+ students is hardly a topic of concern. After learning that LGBTQ+ people are far more likely to fall into self-harming habits from a young age, such as excessive smoking and drinking, I was struck by the inattention to this fact in our own community. That was exactly what the conference intended to establish. The workshops sought to highlight areas of inattention which need student activism in high schools and across the world.


The workshop activities were quite eclectic and thoroughly enjoyable. In my own workshops (I attended the immigrant youth, LGBTQ+ youth, and protesting workshops), there were mostly lectures and engaging student discussions on the topics at hand. From what I heard, the other workshops were equally engaging. There was even an activity in the workshop “Healing from Sexual Assault through the Arts” which involved creating a self-expressive art collage.


My biggest takeaway from the Amnesty Human Rights Awareness Conference is that knowledge is the first step to becoming an activist. Once one acquires knowledge about the injustice that is going on within one’s own community, and throughout the world, the motivation to do something about it is undeniably kindled. After hearing about families being separated from each other at the Mexican border, LGBTQ+ youth suffering under violent bullying from their peers and teachers, and protests against injustice being silenced around the world, my passion for justice was reignited.


If you are a Freshman, Sophomore, or Junior, I strongly recommend attending this conference next year and becoming a part of the Amnesty club here at Friends Academy! No matter your political perspective, passion for human rights should be a universal feeling. This conference will undeniably widen your world view, and it’s overall a really fun time to spend with your peers.