I am particularly lucky in that I have wonderful friends. Friends that are involved in the community and keep me involved – sometimes with sweetly worded invitations, sometimes with plain old guilt, sometimes “owe-sies” (I coerced them into a cause of mine) and sometimes all of the above. But sometimes it is just an amazing opportunity to make a difference in the life of a young person, and there is no saying no to that.
Discovering Justice is one organization that really does make a difference. They are a non-profit and their mission is to educate young people about the role of the justice system. How they do this is the truly amazing part.
From the Discovering Justice website:
Our innovative programs reach children and adults through interactive school-based curricula and unique courthouse-based experiences.
Children Discovering Justice, our literacy-based elementary curriculum program on laws, rules and justice for first through fifth graders is currently taught in 200 classrooms in the Boston area. The program teaches social studies, history, and civic values through high-quality children’s literature.
Stand Up for Your Rights, our new interactive afterschool program, brings the Bill of Rights to life for middle-school students.
Discovering the Bill of Rights is an interactive courtroom experience which provides middle school students with a hands-on learning activity about constitutional law in a real courtroom.
Mock Trial brings students together with attorney volunteers, helping students to gain a first-hand understanding of the law and the justice system, and build confidence, critical thinking, writing, and public speaking skills while preparing cases for mock trial.
Courthouse Tours introduce the public, particularly students, to the art and architecture of the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse and the John Adams Courthouse and educate them about the court system.
Kids, Courts, and Citizenship, created by former U.S. Magistrate Judge Joyce London Alexander, was adopted by Discovering Justice upon Judge Alexander’s retirement in 2009. The program brings Boston Public School fifth grade students to the Moakley U.S. Courthouse to participate in a courtroom proceeding.
To date, more than 75,000 children and adults have taken part in our civic education.
The program I attended was the Mock Trial – I was a pretend juror – all the fun and none of the inconvenience or how jury duty should be. Local law firms (click here for a complete list of participating firms) put together a team of volunteers to work with middle school students in under-served communities to help them prepare for a trial of a case. The student teams prepare opening statements, question witnesses and prepare and deliver closing arguments. The students are clear in their intent to persuade you and fully invested in the outcome – it is a wonderfully engaging experience.
Click here for a link to their video page – all are wonderfully compelling and you will want to volunteer.