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Yorktown High Students Jam for Amnesty Awareness

The inner courtyard at Yorktown High School was filled with passion, global awareness and tie-dyed t-shirts Friday night at the annual Jamnesty event held by the Amnesty Club.

Nearly 50 students attended the event, which aimed to raise funds for two different fundraisers, as well as to help raise awareness for the human rights issues that the amnesty club tries to rectify one urgent action letter at a time.

The Amnesty International Club holds weekly meetings where they discuss global issues, and human rights and write urgent call letters. Urgent call letters, as explained by club advisor and Lakeland High School social studies teacher Steven Rome, are letters which huge groups of amnesty international participants send to one specific cause in order to make a change. That change can be the release of an individual or calling for an end to abuses.

Melissa Frabotta said she joined the Amnesty International Club because of her interest in human rights, and said her participation in events like Jamnesty and writing the urgent action letters feels like she’s doing something to help.

“I feel like doing what we do in large numbers puts pressure on things to change,” she said. “If you get a whole group to do something, it can cause a reaction.”

Jamnesty featured live music, food for the evening and raffles.

The club stresses awareness, which Frabotta said is something she feels is most important and can bring about changes.

“I feel like awareness is what’s going to help people learn about the problems and help stop them,” she said.

Friday’s event raised money for both the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and children in Nepal. Students at the event said it was important to continue to raise funds for Hurricane Katrina to put an end to any rights violations, and because so many people in Louisiana are still in need of help, but have been forgotten.

“The students made a conscious decision that they wanted to focus on human rights issues in the United States which is interesting for them to chose to fundraise for something domestic,” Rome said. Previously the group has focused on issues such as child soldiers or domestic abuses in other countries.

Looking around at the mass of students who came to support the event, Rome said he was glad to see so many students who are interested in the group.

“When I grew up social movements were all around, and it’s harder for students to get involved in these things—society doesn’t necessarily sweet you up in it any more,” Rome said. “But if you have a group that’s strong you’re able to do more things and really make others curious to see what we’re up to, and being in this group has definitely taught them a lot.”

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