St Amand’s Pupils Know Their Rights!

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to visit St Amand’s RC Primary school in Wantage and meet the staff and pupils to say thank you for all their support and talk to them about our global church.

Following on from the Papal Visit last month, Mrs Duggan invited me in to talk about the Catholic community and how big that community was in the UK (8.5 million).  Pupils couldn’t believe it when I told them that if all the Catholics in the UK were to join hands, they would circle the earth three times!  That’s a big hug!  We then looked at how many Catholics there were in the whole world (1.1 billion) and how many of those people lived in poorer countries before talking about the fact that many of those people may not have some of their most basic needs met (such as access to clean water).

We finished by talking about some of the things that Catholic agencies such as CAFOD did and how God calls us to love our neighbour whoever they are, regardless of where they come from or what their religion is and how St Amand’s support for CAFOD has helped the school reach out to some of our poorest neighbours around the world.

Following on from assembly I talked to two classes and asked them what they thought people needed to have a good life.  ‘Family’ ‘clothes’ ‘school’ were some of their answers. We then played a game whereby the pupils had to pretend that they were all world leaders who were at a special meeting to decide what all the children of the world should have as they grow up.  I then gave each group some ideas on cards to think about which included ‘medical care’ ‘protection from discrimination’ as well as ‘money to spend’ and ‘fashionable clothes’.  Each group had to decide on what they thought were ‘most important’ ‘important’ and ‘least important’ and the debates began!

Some pupils also wrote down some things that they thought were really important that weren’t on the cards such as ‘love’ and one group came up with ‘privacy’.

A little further on I made it even harder by saying that due to a lack of money they could only put 8 items into their ‘most important’ category.    After sharing some of their choices,  we looked at the difference between wants and needs and picked a few cards which we thought were really ‘wants’.

Pupils then had a short introduction to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and compared what they had thought was important to their actual ‘rights’ in international law.  Many were surprised that all children have the right to play and that there was a right to have friends!

We also talked about the responsibilities that went alongside these rights.  For example, we discussed the fact that in order to allow everyone to have the right to express their opinion, we also had a responsibility to listen to each other.  Furthermore if we have a right to an education, we have a responsibility to listen to our teachers and do our best to learn as much as we can!

We then looked at a day in the life of a 10 year old boy in Cambodia, called Butterfly, and saw a number of similarities between his life and ours.  We also discussed the fact that in Cambodia only 6 out of 10 children would be able to go to school, what rights that would affect and whether we thought it was fair that some children do not have access to the things they need to live a happy and healthy life.

Lastly we looked at a fantastic set of photographs taken by children from Cambodia and found as many examples as we could which showed how they enjoyed some of these rights.  We found a great deal of examples of play, meeting with friends, being looked after, education, being able to practise the religion of their choice…. etc   Pupils told me that was their favourite part of the lesson as the photos were so interesting!  At the end of the lesson in one class, we then had a very quick game to see how many rights we remembered – and everyone had remembered a great deal!

I promised to write this blog so pupils could take a look at the photos again online at home!  Here you go folks! – I really hope you enjoy looking through them! I know I did!

Thank you so much everyone!  I really enjoyed both sessions!  A special thanks to Mrs Duggan and Mrs Clark for organising the visit and all the teachers and teaching assistants I met on the day.  And thank you everyone in both classes for being so enthusiastic with every part of the lesson and coming up with some amazing questions!  You are brilliant!!!

For the powerpoints on Children’s Rights and Butterfly’s Story please go to:

Picture My World

For more information on the ‘Wants and Needs’ session, please go to ‘Every Child of God Matters Everywhere’ Activity 9 page 59

Wants and Needs cards are produced by UNICEF and free to download

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