The Tennessee chapter of Youth for Human Rights, which works under the umbrella of United for Human Rights, presented a workshop at the Tennessee Conference on Volunteerism.
What do human rights have to do with volunteering? This was the question posed and answered by Rev. Brian Fesler, the regional coordinator for Tennessee United for Human Rights, during a special workshop at the Tennessee Conference on Volunteerism. The workshop, titled Human Rights 101, was aimed at volunteers, to help them first learn their basic human rights, then enlighten them on how to help others understand their rights, too.
As the Volunteer State, the Tennessee government created Volunteer Tennessee under the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration. According to tn.gov, “The State of Tennessee is the national leader in the promotion of volunteerism, community service initiatives and partnerships in which its citizens of all ages and backgrounds engage in services addressing the educational, public safety, environmental and other human needs of the state and nation.”
The main event each year for Volunteer Tennessee is the Conference on Volunteerism and Service Learning, which aims to “increase service and volunteerism across Tennessee as a means of problem-solving throughout all stages of life.” The conference encourages participants to collaborate to address needs in Tennessee while utilizing service and service-learning as a vehicle for education and change.
Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, an educator born and raised in apartheid South Africa, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of discrimination and the lack of basic human rights.
The purpose of YHRI is to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace. YHRI has now grown into a global movement, including hundreds of groups, clubs and chapters around the world. One such chapter is in Tennessee, working to educate people across the state on their basic rights.
“Why do we teach people these basic human rights? Because everyone deserves to know,” says Rev. Fesler, “Only when you understand your rights can you defend your rights.”
For more information about Tennessee United for Human Rights or Youth for Human Rights, visit tnuhr.org.