3 December 2011
Tens of thousands of human rights supporters in dozens of countries now participate in the annual International Walk for Human Rights established by Dustin McGahee, President of Youth for Human Rights Florida.
This unprecedented accomplishment and more earned Dustin McGahee the Human Rights Hero Award at the 8th Annual International Human Rights Summit in Geneva, Switzerland. He was one of five humanitarians honored with this award at the Summit for their work to improve the rights of others and promote Human Rights Education.
As the USA Youth Delegate at the International Human Rights Summit in 2009, Dustin was inspired to create an annual international event to raise awareness of human rights, and the International Walk for Human Rights was born. "The International Walk for Human Rights is a way to create awareness across the world about the need for human rights and human rights education by many countries joining together to celebrate the United Nations Human Rights Day, December 10," said Dustin.
Thousands of youth participated in 12 countries across six continents in 2009, then more than doubled in size with 62 walks in 27 countries in 2010 under Dustin's leadership.
Millions more were informed about their 30 human rights through newspaper, radio and television as a result of Dustin's activities. "Awareness is the first step toward change," Dustin said. "When you look back through every major, positive change in history, it came about by raising awareness. This walk will be a huge step in creating human rights awareness, a huge step towards making human rights a reality, and therefore, a huge step toward a world of peace and tolerance."
In 2010 Dustin participated in the International Human Rights Summit at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland as the USA Youth Ambassador. There he shared his successful actions with his peers. His work included presentations in public schools by singing human rights songs coupled with human rights education.
Dustin soon found himself invited to Taiwan, where 3,000 people were directly educated about human rights at concerts and university presentations, with millions more potentially reached via radio throughout not only Taiwan, but also mainland China.
Starting in his local community, Dustin gave Human Rights workshops in community groups and schools. Through partnerships with other groups he distributed over 8,000 Youth for Human Rights educational materials, and raised awareness about human rights for over 10,000 youth.
After collecting thousands of petitions to get human rights taught in schools in Florida, Dustin presented these petitions to the Governor's Office and talked to State Senators and Representatives about human rights education.
Among his many human rights projects, Dustin arranged to have Youth for Human Rights materials included in a violence prevention program for one of the top ten largest counties in the United States, including over 200 public schools. "In doing this, we presented the materials to teachers, school resource officers, students, and even cafeteria workers who helped spread the word to their schools," said Dustin.
Dustin is a popular speaker about human rights in diverse settings including colleges, schools, and youth crime watch meetings. He presented the Youth for Human Rights materials to educators, students, and community leaders, and reached millions more by speaking about human rights on radio and television. Speaking out against human trafficking, Dustin's poem, "If You Only Knew" became part of a college curriculum, and an international fashion magazine recently published his article listing out "Myth Busters" to separate valid modeling agencies from those wanting to entice young girls into human trafficking.
As a singer/songwriter Dustin puts his passion for human rights into many of his songs. Stepping into schools he entertains students with "The Oh Oh Song," an anti-bullying song that even makes the teachers laugh. The title "Clearly As I Am" speaks for itself as a non-discrimination song. And his latest song, "Noise" has students jumping and singing as he asks them to speak out for human rights. But the song that is sung across the world is "10,000 Voices for Human Rights" which youth in different continents sing as part of the "International Walk for Human Rights" celebrations, inspiring youth and adults to join in bringing Human Rights Education to the world.