Advertise - -->Subscribe Online --> - -->Manage Subscription --> - Contact Us - Online Edition - Business Directory - Web Cams  

Human Rights Club Chosen For Pilot Program

Posted in: Mashpee News, Front Page Stories
Nov 28, 2008 - 12:40:07 PM
Digg this story!

Printer friendly page

MASHPEE- Mashpee High School’s Human Rights Club is planning to step up its activities in the district this year, and will soon start educating younger peers about the issues they will face as adults.
Larry Mahan
Last weekend 19 club members participated in a new pilot training program offered by Larry Mahan of Provincetown, a member of the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission and founder and CEO of Larry Mahan Associates, Inc., a consulting firm that works with families to help them become healthy and productive members of society.
Joining him at the weekend retreat: Patricia Sprague, a deputy with the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Department and volunteer instructor at the Sheriff’s Youth Academy; and Shani Turner, a counselor and MHS’s new Indian Education coordinator.
According to MHS senior Ross A. Lippman, club founder, Mr. Mahan knew of the club through its participation in the BCHRC’s annual Human Rights Academy. “He’d been so impressed with Mashpee students in the past,” Ross said, “and he wanted to do this pilot program with Mashpee High School.”
Diane E. and Richard J. Cook Jr. of Mashpee offered the use of their home for the two-part session, which began last Friday evening with a brief orientation and overview of Saturday’s session, which ran from 8 AM until 4 PM.
The day included presentations and workshops touching on a wide variety of issues, including homelessness, immigration, pollution, poverty. Senior Thomas J. Nickowal said the homelessness issue struck him as particularly important “because there are a lot of people out there this winter with no place to go” and risk dying in the increasingly cold weather.
“I think it’s important that kids understand that a homeless man is not just some nasty guy on the side of the road,” junior Briana L. Huard said. “It can be anybody, so that’s a stereotype we want them to get out of their heads.”
Sophomore Lucille G. Boco said urban issues piqued her interest. “Not every place is this beautiful, perfect city,” she said. “There’s a whole other side people don’t see or try not to see.”
Aphrodite T. Purdy, MHS staff advisor for the club, said the training meshed perfectly with one of the club’s goals for this year: to provide students as peer mentors and facilitators for students in grades five and up. Ross said once the club receives permission from school administrators, the students will visit younger classrooms to discuss human rights issues.
Ross said the training helped the club members learn how to tailor their message to the younger students so they can better understand the issues. “It’s a very different age group, a very different mentality,” he said. “Young kids can’t think abstractly, they need concrete information, so we’ve got to relate it to them and bring it to their level.”
“No matter what the issue is, if you can tailor it to their demographic, you can sell it,” Ross said.
Ross plans to record the club’s work in the schools for his senior project, a documentary on the club’s evolution and work during the school year.
The training session had added significance for Ross, who graduates this year and is hoping he has laid the foundation for the club to continue after his departure. “I wanted to leave Mashpee High School and leave behind a solid group of leaders,” he said. “This training program won’t just establish one or two leaders, but many leaders, which is even better.”
Ms. Purdy said the club would also be more actively involved in the school’s annual “Challenge Day,” a four-day program in which students participate in daylong workshops that teach them how to tackle common issues such as bullying, youth violence, racism, and substance abuse by forging stronger interpersonal connections among their peers, as well as parents and the community at large.
“One of our goals is to improve the school culture through these students,” she said.