Amnesty International conference at Croydon High

The ‘youth quake’ hit Croydon High School this week when school students joined together for their first ever multi-school Amnesty International Conference.

The theme of the event – held on Human Rights Day – was ‘Voices Are Powerful’.

More than 60 students from seven local schools in south London came together to explore the power of the arts to effect change and to discuss the impact of Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign.

Croydon High’s Head Emma Pattison and the Deputy Head Girls opened proceedings, with Victoria explaining that the aim of the conference was:

“To broaden our minds with regard to the current issues in the world and to create more awareness of Amnesty and all the amazing work they do. Maybe you will be encouraged to set up your own Amnesty Society to initiate change within your school?”

Holly Shorey, Vice Chair of AIUK Children’s Human Rights Network Committee, delivered a keynote speech, asking why society does not recognize that young people are “brave, powerful and independent just like adult human-rights defenders”.

amnesty youthquake 2019
Holly Shorey, Vice Chair of AIUK Children’s Human Rights Network Committee with Esther Green from Croydon High, one of the day’s organisers

Students also took part in workshops with Amnesty volunteers and, in the afternoon, Joelle Taylor, an award-winning poet, playwright and activist, took to the stage for a rousing performance before working with some students on personal poems.

At least two of the attending schools now plan to start their own Amnesty group in the New Year.

Cecile Dreiss, academic at King’s College London, and an Amnesty volunteer, said:

“I found it refreshing to hear from young people, who talked about young people. I think it is safe to say that everyone left believing that My Voice is Powerful. Such a motivational day for Amnesty at Croydon High!”