Students celebrate end of year-long social justice program

Hadas Kuznits
May 30, 2019 - 3:27 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Nearly 900 students across 18 Philadelphia schools celebrated the completion of a year-long curriculum on social justice Thursday afternoon at Temple University's Liacouras Center. 

The National Liberty Museum Young Heroes program teaches kids how to address social issues and create change in their communities. The Young Heroes Impact Celebration was the final showcase of students' projects. 

Peggy Sweeney, chief development officer of the museum, said this was a hands-on learning project for the students.

"The first half of the year, they are learning about their rights and they're also learning about the powers that they have to make a difference," she said. "Then, the second half of the year, we challenge the kids to identify a real-life social issue and then work together to resolve it collectively."

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Jean Byrne, director of education and outreach, noted the students get to choose which issues to focus on.

"We have had students from fourth to eighth grade protesting at City Hall, using their First Amendment rights, talking about sexism, racism, gun violence, drug addiction — you name it," she said. "These kids hear about it, they know about it and most importantly, they do something about it."

Adrianna Moore, 11, participated in a group project about bullying.

"People should take more action in the world so they can help make the world safe," she said, while another 11-year-old, Chase Towns, tackled the issue of homelessness.

Katherine, one of the advisers for the eighth annual program, said she's seen her students grow.

"I definitely see a lot of empathy in them. Also, an understanding that issues are very complex — more complex than they thought," she added.

Sweeney also noted the significance of the program as a new approach to social studies for middle schoolers.

"That's a critical time period where young people can learn these lessons and really take them forward with them in their high school career and beyond," she said.