Amnesty Youth Awards: Creativity in the fight for human rights

Written by Dana Anderson, Youth Awards Communications Volunteer

A young girl stands tall on the stage and takes a deep breath. Fully covered in a black and blue niqab, she stands out from the crowd of other young people who fill the audience.

Her first line, delivered in a clear voice that carries right to the back of the room, dispels any restlessness:

'Arrest me. Go on, arrest me.’

Her spoken poem electrifies the audience and exemplifies the underlying purpose of the Amnesty Youth Awards, which celebrate the passion, creativity and activism of young people around the UK.

Ultimately, the Awards are a platform for young people to express their perspectives on crucial human rights issues, justice, equality and humanity.

‘Just because of the clothes I wear, they think they know me inside out; the veil that covers my face apparently determines what I’m all about.’

Every year for the past five years, hundreds of young people come together at the Amnesty UK Human Rights Action Centre to celebrate their success in the Amnesty Youth Awards.

A panel of experts select the best reports, photographs, songs and fundraising and campaigning efforts from thousands of entries to be featured at the Awards celebration day.

As a major event hosted by the Human Rights Education team, the Awards are partly a competition and partly an educational resource.

Most entries come from schools, where teachers encourage their classes to enter after utilising resources such as the Amnesty Power of our Voices song pack to teach about creativity in human rights activism.

Amnesty Youth Groups submit their best campaign and fundraiser initiatives from the past year, while reporters, photographers and singer/songwriters put their skills to the test to produce powerful interpretations of UK human rights issues.

This year’s judging panels included the likes of Sir Trevor McDonald, professional editors, poets, photojournalists and the celebrity photographer Rankin. BBC Radio 1 DJ Nick Bright hosted the ceremony, which showcased the presentation of trophies to the winners and captivating live performances from top entries in the songwriter category.

A set of workshops and an action skit capitalised on the enthusiasm of Amnesty partners and young entrants.

The 'Don’t Let Them Drown' skit teamed groups from different schools to send a powerful message about the dangers faced by migrants, complete with paper sailor hats and card stock life buoys. 

The TES reporter workshop investigated the role of reporting in human rights awareness, while Getty images hosted a tour of the famous Getty archives.

From torture to domestic abuse, the entries to the Youth Awards address a wide variety of human rights topics from a youth perspective.

Jordon Gordon-Harris, this year’s winner of the lower-secondary young reporter category, investigated juvenile prison sentences in his report 'Wasted Lives'.

In photography, Benjamin Levey won his age category with the photograph 'Why Won’t You Teach Me?' - a moving capture that portrays discrimination.

Croydon High School’s youth group won the most creative fundraiser award with their fundraising event featuring cross-dressing teachers and quiz questions submitted by students.

The Awards will continue to be an exciting avenue for youth participation in years to come, with each new group of entrants contributing their creativeness and thoughtfulness to fight for human rights.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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