NFL Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, the popular former star with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is also well known for his dedication to empowering youth. The mission of his Derrick Brooks Charities is to “provide educational opportunities for youth that will instill, inspire, broaden and develop cultural and social vision outside the walls in which they live.” This mission has enriched the lives of thousands of young people.
A Derrick Brooks program that mentors young women, Rites of Passage, added human rights education to its agenda for 2017 and in late spring graduated 23 from the Youth for Human Rights educational program at the United for Human Rights Center on Fort Harrison. Youth for Human Rights teaches young people about the 30 rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to create advocates for tolerance and peace. The Rites of Passage students were delivered an interactive curriculum designed to educate youth on the history of human rights and what they mean. After attending several problem-solving sessions regarding key human rights currently in jeopardy, each of the students created an essay, dance or drawing depicting that right. Students then distributed materials to other youth on the 30 rights in the Universal Declaration. One student then started a human rights club in her school; another helped her teacher bring human rights education into the classroom. And so it went.
The young women were especially moved and motivated by the story of Ruby Bridges, the brave 5-year-old African-American child who helped to desegregate an all-white school in Louisiana more than half a century ago. Instead of hating the white protesters, she prayed for them every day. As one of the Rites of Passage students wrote, “I am inspired to not back down on what’s right, and to love, not hate.” Another wrote of being inspired “to never let someone talk me out of what I believe in and always push forward in what I want to do in my life.”