The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) PA Racial Justice Through Human Rights youth group has spent a great deal of time considering this issue. Why a trillion dollars? That is how much was spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Money that was not available to us for domestic needs.
For the last four years AFSC together with National Priorities has held a video competition for youth called, “if I Had a Trillion Dollars (IHTD).” Youth around the country are invited to create a video reflecting their priorities and what they would spend their trillion on. The winning videos are shown at the IHTD film festival in DC and about 60 youth have gone each year to DC for the event. While there they have the opportunity to talk with their Congressional representative about their concerns. For two years in a row now our local AFSC youth have focused their concerns on education and the lack of decent funding for our public schools. In fact well over half of the videos at the IHTD film festival in DC reflected an education theme. Our youth know our education system is broken; many of them live it every day.
Here in Pittsburgh our diverse group of youth from around the city has explored human rights. What are they? Do they apply to everyone? What are the impediments to getting our human rights, such as racism, economic injustice, violence? What do we need to do to achieve human rights for all? We are now embarking on our fourth year of our local AFSC PA youth program and it will be exciting to see what human rights issues these youth feel are crucial in their community and how they would like to bring change.
In the past our group has been instrumental in getting City council to declare Pittsburgh the 5th Human Rights City in the country; has initiated and participated in creating an excellent video on our education system and schools; has twice been one of the awarding video’s at the AFSC “If I Had a Trillion Dollars” film festival; gone to DC to lobby our Congressmen and won the, Steeltown Entertainment “Take a Shot at Changing the World” film festival for 10-12 grades.
Being part of the group has opened up other opportunities for the youth participants. Some have become interns with the program or with other youth programs run by AFSC. An article written by one of the youth was published in the New People, there have been opportunities to be interviewed by the press, a number of our youth have spoken at rallies and forums on education, two of our youth were sponsored to the March on Washington and one of our youth members this year will be going to the Nobel Peace Summit in Warsaw, Poland in October.
We are always looking for new youth between the ages of 14 to 18 to join this exciting dynamic group. We meet every two weeks on Sunday afternoons at the Friends Meeting House in Oakland.
Anyone interested in learning more about the program can contact Scilla Wahrhaftig firstname.lastname@example.org (412) 315 7423