Why is it important to educate children and youth about their rights?
Children and youth play an important role in building an inclusive and equitable society. Children who are aware of their rights are better able to think critically about the impact of their behaviors, problem solve, and take action to promote greater respect and inclusion in their classrooms, schools playgrounds and communities.
Equitas’ Educational Approach with Children and Youth
Learn more about our Theory of Change and our Educational Approach with Children and Youth here (PDF).
At Equitas we know that introducing children and youth to human rights ideas that might not be in textbooks or they has not hear about at home, can helps them to develop new knowledge, skills and ways of being with one another and those around them.
Since 2004 children and youth have been taking part in Equitas activities across Canada.
Through our work in Canada, we have:
- reached more than 920,000 children and youth in 52 communities;
- implemented programs in more than 550 summer camps, classrooms and after-school programs;
- used our unique approach in more than;
- ensure that children and youth who sometimes get excluded because of (gender, race, ethnicity, ability, socioeconomics statues, etc.) have access to programs that support their active participation.
Play it Fair!
For 6-12 year olds and those working with children:
- promotes children’s well-being and participation using value-based games in day camps, afterschool programs and schools.
- children learn about human rights values (fairness, acceptance, inclusion), peaceful conflict resolution, and become leaders in promoting respect for diversity, and countering exclusion and bullying in their communities.
This year, 300+ Newcomer and Refugee Children are taking action in building more connected and strong communities across Canada. Learn more about their last successes here.
What people say
“The Play it Fair! activities really made a positive change in our school. It made the kids realize that we should all do our part to live in a better society even though it’s small changes and we should all take it seriously.”
– English Montreal School Board Educator
“We learned how to resolve conflicts while at the same time having fun.”
– Child participant, Vancouver
Discover a sample from our award-winning Play it Fair! educational toolkit here >
For 12-18 year olds and those working with youth:
- builds youth’s sense of belonging and participation through activities that focus on self-esteem, critical thinking, peaceful conflict resolution, leadership and active citizenship.
- Youth work together to identify issues that are important to them (e.g. exclusion, discrimination, inequality, environment, violence, homophobia) and together initiate Action Projects to engage with their community.
- Speaking Rights activities reach out to youth who are often excluded and creates spaces for all youth to have a voice.
What people say
“The change we have seen in our youth as a result of doing this project is their overall confidence level and increased self-esteem. For example, at the event, a particular youth, who is unable to consistently attend our youth group due to personal obligations, took the reins of one of the activities and ran it successfully. (…) This is how the Speaking Rights toolkit continues to pave the way for youth to take leadership in the community and make healthy decision”
– Youth worker, Toronto
Speakingrights.ca: Youth Shaping Change Across Canada
Youth across the country are taking part in national conversations on equality, inclusion and diversity. They are learning how to respond to issues in their community by initiating Community Action Projects (CAPs). Throughout www.speakingrights.ca, discover their motivation, get inspired, investigate issues related to human rights and see how youth are leading change in our communities!
Speakingrights.ca is a component of Equitas’ Speaking Rights Program, a Human Rights Education program that aims at developing the capacity of youth to engage in actions that support respect for human rights.
Discover a sample of our award-winning Speaking Rights educational toolkit here >
Young women, Young leaders
For young women 15-25 year olds and those working with young women:
- young women participate in workshops on self-esteem, identity, barriers, and together initiate Action Projects to create spaces for participation in their communities.
- A particular focus is placed on building the leadership of newcomer & refugee young women, young women who face socio-economic barriers, and young women in care.
What people say
“The (girls) learned a lot about differences issues, like hypersexualization, sexism, egalitarian relationships, sexual exploitation, women’s rights. They developed critical thinking and analysis skills regarding these phenomena and they became agents of change.”
– Youth worker, Montreal
Canada has a long history of welcoming people from around the world who have moved here for many reasons. Most recently, as a result of the conflict in Syria, Canada has seen a dramatic rise in the number of Syrian refugees resettling here with higher numbers of refugee children and youth participating in schools, community centres, and recreational programs across the country.
These spaces within communities are important for newcomer and refugee children and youth to start to get to know their new home, feel safe and adjust to big changes in their lives:
- These spaces can provide welcoming, safe, and supportive environments for refugee children and youth to develop a sense of belonging and connectedness, build communication skills, make friends and feel like they are part of the broader community.
- They are also important spaces to address possible negative attitudes and discriminatory behaviours towards refugee children and youth through programming that promotes positive values, attitudes, and inclusion and respect for diversity for all community members.
What we do
It is important for children and youth to learn about human rights and human rights values because knowing about your own rights is the first step in promoting greater respect for the rights of others.
When children and youth are aware of their rights, they begin to understand that all people are important as human beings. They start to also realize that what they live, think and feel has value and that they can make a positive contribution to the life of the group, of their family, their school, and their community.
Doing activities with children that promote human rights and human rights values is one of the most effective ways of encouraging positive behaviour because the activities involve critical reflection and increase children and youth’s sense of responsibility.
Once children become more aware of the importance of respect for diversity, cooperation, and inclusion, they are better equipped to put these values into practice in their daily lives.
Equtias award wining programs have been recognized through:
- British Columbia Multicultural Award (2016) for building welcoming and inclusive communities in B.C. and across Canada.
- Tri-Cities award (2015) for helping to make child and youth friendly communities.
- The Quebec Human Rights Commission Rights and Freedoms Prize (2014) for its work with children and youth.
- The Trailblazer award (2014) from the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of the Child.
- The Canadian Race Relations Foundation’s Award of Excellence (2012) for engaging youth through Speaking Rights in the fight against inequality, exclusion and racism.
- The Prix de la citoyenneté Anne-Greenup (2009) recognizing exceptional efforts in addressing racism in Québec.
- And as best practices in: “A Compendium of Good Practice: Human Rights Education in the School Systems of Europe, Central Asia and North America” by the Council of Europe, OSCE ODIHR, UN OHCHR and UNESCO and the Good Ideas in Integration on the Cities in Migration website.
Since the launch of programs for children and youth, our partners across Canada have reported important changes in the behaviour of children, changes in the approach used by directors and child care workers running the program as well as the integration of the Equitas approach into other areas of their work with children.
Equitas works with more than 300 community partners in Canada.
To learn more about our funding partners, please visit our Partners page.