I wanted to bring our “Perspectives on Being Human” newsletter about human rights to life a little bit more, and thought it would be good to involve some of the programs we’d funded, where arts are used to connect with youth in dealing with social justice issues. And so we started a project to create an original dramatization around human rights issues. It ended up being called “The World As It Could Be: A Declaration of Human Rights,” a collaboration with Destiny Arts Center, the Mime Troupe Youth Theater Project, and Youth Speaks.
I raised funds from corporations and other nonprofits so we could give grants to the participating nonprofits, and also arrange to have the program put on in a high school, which turned out to be Balboa High School, where Jerry Garcia went.
We learned that nobody knows about a very important document called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the young kids learning about it got all excited. What became clear was that we needed to raise awareness about this document, which creates a frame of reference for positive social change.
We also saw that the arts in the schools were about to go away because of lack of funding, and my thought was, why not use the expertise of our nonprofits to bring the arts back into the public schools as a key part of teaching the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? So we began a pilot with Balboa High School to show how the arts could be an integral part of teaching, with the focus on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We successfully helped the students at Balboa High School put on their own presentation.
Now what we’re doing is creating curriculum that we can easily distribute to high schools all over that shows how to use the arts as a vital part of teaching the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and incorporates a rite of passage to help young people accept responsibility, as members of the global community, to manifest the words of the document.