Consciousness-raising speakers and workshops, along with a new public service announcement featuring Justin Bieber, highlight the 27th annual Nassau County Human Rights Awareness Day.
by Brett H. Spielberg
More than 200 high school juniors and seniors, their teachers, Adelphi professors and honored guests filled the Thomas Dixon Lovely Ballroom for the 27th annual Nassau County Human Rights Awareness Day program on February 7.
Since 2007, Adelphi has hosted the event for Nassau County, thanks largely to Ron Feingold, Ph.D., retiring professor and chair of the Department of Exercise Science, Health Studies, Physical Education and Sport Management, whose hard work and dedication have been instrumental to the partnership.
The conference offered a diverse program, including speakers from the Nassau County Commission on Human Rights, a screening of Nassau County’s public service announcement on online bullying featuring Justin Bieber, workshops ranging from LGBTQ bullying in schools to being Muslim in America post-9/11 and dramatic skits by The Truth Urban Theater.
“We are especially pleased that your teachers have taken the time and interest to be here,” Jane Ashdown, Ph.D., dean of the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, told students at the event. “Test scores are important, but being a responsible, thoughtful, caring and compassionate citizen of the world today is very important as well.”
Deputy County Executive Phillip Elliot, Ph.D., spoke about how human rights are the basis of America’s foundation and how, as a community, we should strive to protect the rights of everyone in Nassau County.
“Rights have slowly but surely been granted to those who had been denied,” Dr. Elliot said. “Countless individuals fight for inalienable rights, but we’re unfortunately still fighting in some corners.”
Those corners are both perpetual and ephemeral, with conditions and customs that have existed for hundreds of years changing at the blink of an eye due in large part to the spread of technology, Dr. Elliot said.
While technology has helped shed light on such issues as child slavery and social inequality, it is also a tool that has been used for online bullying. Because of that, Nassau County considered it an opportune time to screen its PSA, which puts the ramifications of online bullying in context.
In the PSA, Mr. Bieber spoke with Roosevelt High School seventh-grader Diana Lee Henderson about how online bullying has drastically affected her life. Mr. Bieber emphasized that words are powerful and can truly hurt.
“The Nassau County Commission on Human Rights’ motto is ‘Your Human Rights Are My Responsibility,’” said Patrice Armstrong-Leach, assistant dean at the Ammon School of Education. “Adelphi is the only university offering a minor in peace studies on Long Island. We hope to provide students in this region with the opportunity to make peace studies a critical academic pursuit. Next year, we hope to include high schools from the New York City public and private school systems, particularly St. Francis Preparatory High School, Bayside High School, Benjamin Cardozo High School and the Queens High School of Teaching in northeast Queens.”
To see the video and learn more about online bullying, visit stopbullyingli.org.
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