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University of Iowa News Release

March 2, 2004

Local Voices Will Be Heard At Children's World Congress On Child Labor

A group of Iowa City fifth and sixth grade students who are working to raise awareness about abusive child labor practices around the world will meet Wednesday, March 3, at the University of Iowa law school to help Kendra Halter, an eighth-grade student at Southeast Junior High School, prepare for the first Children's World Congress on Child Labor. The meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. in room 115 Boyd Law Building.

Halter was selected as one of only four U.S. youth delegates to the Congress after Chivy Sok, deputy director of the UI Center for Human Rights, and two Iowa City teachers nominated her. She will travel to Washington, D.C. on March 4 for a meeting to prepare for the Congress, which is scheduled for May 10-13 in Florence, Italy.

The Children's World Congress (CWC) is the first-ever global youth congress on child labor. Some 500 young people ages 10 to 17 will share their perspectives on child labor, engage in policy making and strengthen their leadership skills in directing the youth movement against child labor. Current and former child laborers from throughout the world and student group representatives who have shown commitment to the struggle against child labor will participate.

One of Kendra's responsibilities as a youth delegate to the World Congress is to create both a written document and a visual presentation on child labor and youth activism in the United States. She has been encouraged by the organizers to begin collecting stories, poems, messages and photographs from Iowa and to bring them to this week's meeting in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday's meeting at the UI College of Law will give other Iowa City students who have been active in working to end abusive child labor practices an opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences with Kendra so that she can convey them to the Congress.

"This is a great opportunity for these Iowa City students to make their voices count globally," Sok said. "It is children's participation in practice at its best. It's the children who are doing the thinking and the strategizing. The adults will only be there to provide logistical support as drivers and note takers. The students will do the real work."

As part of the UI Center for Human Rights Child Labor Research Initiative, UICHR staff and half a dozen Iowa City teachers, have been working to develop curriculum materials to teach child labor in the classrooms. Sok has visited several classes to speak about the issue, igniting a passion in many students who are now working to raise awareness locally.

Students at both Lucas and Hoover Elementary Schools have been active locally in both learning and teaching about abusive child labor practices worldwide. The Lucas students have formed an anti child labor club, and the Hoover students have launched a peer education project. Last week, Hoover sixth graders Seth Saeugling and Davis Vonk prepared a dozen large posters, a notebook, stories and statistics and spent half a day visiting three local schools to speak about global child labor.

More information about the Children's World Congress is available online http://stopchildlabor.org/cwc/

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu; Program: Chivy Sok, 319-335-3857 (office) or 312-339-2009 (cell)