In this culminating activity, students reflect on their own civic responsibilities by developing a personal plan of action that, if implemented, would allow them to make a difference in the world.
Students may find it a formidable task to gather and digest the information needed to design a personal plan of action thoughtfully. Consider in advance how to manage this challenge in light of your students' capabilities and the amount of time you want to devote to these lessons. To meet the diverse learning needs of students, consider increasing the number of students who work on each taskfor example, students might work in pairs, or in small groups or the class may undertake the project collectively.
Detailed instructions and strategies for introducing and planning a social action project are found in Active Citizenship: Student Action Projects (see References).
Introduction to human rights activists
Suggest that people throughout the world share in the responsibility to secure the unmet rights of people. Some, like celebrities, use their fame to raise awareness and support the work of organizations that protect human rights. Others donate money to support agencies such as UNICEF, CARE Canada, Oxfam and the Canadian Foodgrain Bank. But many take individual actions to make a significant difference to improve the quality of life for others. As the slogan Think Global, Act Local suggests, these actions need not take students out of their own communities.
Prepare a list of profiles of human rights activistsat the local, provincial and national levelswith a focus on how they have acted to help improve the quality of life of others or to protect human rights. Some celebrity activists could include Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, Bono, Bob Geldof, Angelina Jolie, Tom Cochrane, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk and Oprah Winfrey. Canadian youth activists could include Craig and Marc Kielburger or Hannah Taylor. Provincially, the Wild Rose Foundation's Star of the Millennium Program and the YWCA's Women of Distinction Program give annual youth and community service awards to people who have made outstanding contributions to better the lives of others in their communities. Many communities also recognize local humanitarians.
To meet diverse learning needs, you may want to ask students to create their own profiles through Internet or community research.
Identify actions taken by activists
Distribute a different profile to each student or pairs of students. Ask them to identify the kinds of actions their assigned activist has taken to make a difference; e.g., donate money, give a free concert, do volunteer work, build something, start a program. Invite students to share their lists of actions. Record them on the blackboard or chart paper.
Select 10 most effective actions
From the compiled list, ask the class to select the top 10 most effective actions. Ask students to use these criteria:
- has the greatest impact on improving the quality of life or protecting human rights
- includes respect for cultural traditions
- is efficientprovides a lot for a little
- will have a long-term impact.
Ask students to examine, individually, the top 10 actions to determine which ones they could carry out (albeit on a less grand scale) to make a noticeable difference in the world. To meet the diverse learning needs of students, consider limiting the number of actions examined.
To help them determine the most effective action, encourage students to rate each option against criteria such as the following:
- realisticcan be accomplished with reasonable effort
- effectivehas a likely chance of making a noticeable difference in improving the quality of life for someone in another part of the world
- financially feasible.
You may want to adapt the charts and strategies in Considering Options (Support Material) to structure and assess students' deliberations.
Choose the most effective action
Invite students to weigh the evidence and select the most effective action based upon the criteria above. To meet the diverse learning needs of students, consider ranking the top three to five most effective actions.
You may want to adapt the charts and strategies in Justifying My Choice (Support Material) to structure and assess students' recommendations.
Prepare a plan of action
After students have made their choice, invite them to suggest the steps they might follow to develop a successful plan for the best action. Guide them to consider that they should:
- learn more about the selected country and its quality of life or standard of living indicators; e.g., personal satisfaction indexes, life expectancy, infant mortality rate, literacy rate, gross domestic income per person, Genuine Progress Indicator, Gross National Health, sense of hope, emotional stability
- identify the issue or problem areas that might impact the quality of life of young people in their selected country
- think about the goals and objectives they hope to accomplish
- develop a list of strategies or steps they might undertake
- identify both the strengths and weaknesses of each possible strategy or step
- consider what resources, i.e., human, monetary, material, they will need
- generate a timeline
- indicate how to measure the impact of their actions.
Share plan of action
Arrange for students to develop and share their personal plan of action with the class. Ask small groups of students to critique the effectiveness of the plans using the above criteria. Encourage but do not require that students implement their plan.