The 300-plus area high school students who attended the Human Rights Awareness Day Conference on Adelphi’s Garden City campus left with useful information about the various forms of discrimination, sexual harassment, mental health and immigration.
The 300-plus area high school seniors and juniors who attended the Human Rights Awareness Day (HRAD) Conference for the 12th year on Adelphi’s Garden City campus on February 1 gained fresh perspectives about how discrimination and sexual harassment pertain to all people, including recent immigrants, LGBTQ individuals and people with mental health issues.
That was, at least, the intention of Ammon School interim dean Anne Mungai. “I hope that all the students will learn to respect all people and how to negotiate issues that arise about diversity,” she said before the event. “This conference should help change attitudes toward others.”
Adelphi’s Ammon School and the Nassau County Human Rights Commission collaborate on the annual daylong conference, which this year carried the theme “Your Rights Are My Responsibility.” Sessions were designed to promote human rights, respect and sensitivity for people of all races, religions, cultures, ages and genders.
Students from more than 20 Nassau County school districts were welcomed by Dr. Mungai and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. They were then invited to participate in a variety of workshops, including: Addressing Racism, presented by the Ammon School’s Patrice Armstrong-Leach, assistant dean, also a member of the Adelphi Diversity Program; Interacting with the Police presented by Nassau County police officer Joseph Monez; Students United for Safe Schools, presented by Kara Santucci from the Child Abuse Prevention Services; and Targeted Teens: Discrimination and Diversity in our School, presented by Students of Mepham High School’s School and Community Leadership.
Other sessions were: Immigrant Youth on Long Island: Do They Have Rights? presented by ADA Silvia Pastor Finkelstein, the director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs; Addressing the Mental Health Gap in the LBBTQ+ Community, presented by Peer Navigators; LGBT+ Around the World, presented by the students of the Wheatley High School’s Gender-Identity Sexual-Orientation Acceptance Club; and The Power of Symbols Deconstructing Hate, presented by Helen Turner from The Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County.
The event concluded with a performance of “Now You Hear Me,” an original dramatic piece created with six theatre majors including Carson Ferguson, Rachel Hernstat, Crystal Hernandez, Billy Meurer, Brianna Carella and senior Isuri Wijesundara, who co-directed with Margaret Lally ’82, associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Theatre.
The performance, a multimedia presentation created by the ensemble addressing issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault, featured performers who wrote monologues based on their personal experiences.
“The message is, ‘We’re listening and we believe you,’” explained Lally, who creates a new piece for HRAD each year on a social justice issue that resonates with her theater students. “We hope students left with a clearer understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment and assault and will seek out help.”
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