By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A group of eight Morinville Community High School students will remain silent Wednesday, but the lack of talking has nothing to do with being quiet in class. The students, all part of the school’s Youth in Action Committee, will be joining thousands of youth around the globe in taking a vow of silence for those who have no voice. Students will don t-shirts announcing what they are doing and placing duct tape across their mouths with the word silence written on them.
Morinville’s Community Services Youth Worker, A.D. Richardson will be joining the vow of silence Wednesday but spoke freely about the event Tuesday. “It’s a 24-hour vow of silence for Free the Children, which is an international organization that provides funds, support and general information for the public about youth that are in need all over the world.”
The demonstration speaks to the fact that around the world many children are silenced by being denied an education and by being forced to work as child labourers. According to Free the Children information, more than 100 million youth worldwide are not receiving a formal education and another 215 million are forced to work as child labourers.
The annual initiative to go silent to speak up for these children and young people had more than 102,000 participants in 57 countries last year, and although this year’s local participation is limited to MCHS students, Richardson said she is hoping to include the participation of Georges H. Primeau’s Youth in Action Committee in the day of silence next year.
But for the eight high school students taking part in the event Wednesday, there is more than remaining silent. “They don’t communicate verbally, text messaging, emailing, nothing,” Richardson said, adding the school was apprised of the initiative. “I think the texting and the social media part will be the hardest part for them because that is something youth do on a daily and hourly basis.”
Remaining silent and keeping thumbs in pockets for the day is not the only activity Youth in Action will be engaged in. Richardson said the students will be collecting donations for Free the Children until Dec. 9. Those wishing to donate can do so by visiting freethechildren.com/vowofsilence and search for Youth in Action Morinville. Donations can also be made at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre or by calling A.D. Richardson at 780-939-7874.
The goal is to raise $1,000; however, Richardson said a lesser amount can have a profound effect. “We’d like to collect $700 because that is the amount it would take to fund one teacher’s yearly salary, which includes supplies, pay and utilities,” Richardson said.
The youth worker is confident the Youth in Action Committee will succeed in raising awareness and raising dollars for the cause because she has seen first-hand the quality of youth living in Morinville.
“These kids, they really do care,” Richardson said. “They really do care about local and global issues. This is our first big thing that we are going to do.”
Richardson said there has been some talk of the committee doing something each month to address either local or global issues.