HARTFORD, Conn. (WFSB) – Children in Connecticut have a unique opportunity to learn about the state’s legal system and various social justice issues.
This is done interactively through the Kids Court Academy program.
“It really teaches you a lot and shows you what you know about the law,” said Saige Edwards.
Saige is in fifth grade and this is her second year at Kids Court Academy.
“There are so many laws that you need to learn in case you face them in the future and you need to know them,” she said.
The program is designed to spark children’s interest in law and civil rights from an early age.
“We believe that young people can be very active in social civil rights work and we have seen proof of that through this program,” said Tanya Hughes, executive director of the Human Rights and Opportunity Commission.
The pipeline program is one of many organized by the commission.
“I see this program as an introduction to race, ethnicity, different types of places we live, what we do in normal life, our thoughts, the way we live,” said Ana Mitchell , Outreach Coordinator at the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity.
Lawyers and civil rights activists chat with students in the bi-weekly virtual sessions.
The hope is to elevate children’s voices and empower them to imagine themselves in areas such as civil law and human rights.
“If you know how politics works and you know how government works, you can have a voice. You can be part of the process,” said Cheryl Sharp, deputy director of the Human Rights and Opportunity Commission.
Students can also analyze documentary films through the lens of the legal system through partnerships with local nonprofit organizations.
“We realized there was a way to bridge this perceived gap between social justice work and the arts. More specifically film,” said Tina Parziale, Head of Learning and Engagement at Real Art Ways.
“It creates a different perspective for children,” said Sankarapandy Bala, a father.
Sreenidi Bala has participated twice in the Connecticut Kids Court.
“Not only was it great for me to voice my opinions, but the most rewarding part of this experience was listening to the students around me and what they were doing to put equity at the forefront of their practices and issues they faced,” said Sreenidi Bala, a freshman at Farmington High School.
She uses the skills she has learned to challenge inequality and advocate for change.
“I hope we create a more receptive, inclusive and kind generation so that we have a better future,” she said.
The free program is open to Connecticut students in grades 4 through 12.
It is taking place virtually this year because of the pandemic.
If you wish to register, Click here.
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